1055 Elm Street Remodel

Abandoned house gets new life in planned LEED renovation

Indianapolis, IN)    GreenPath Homes will renovate a formerly abandoned 110-year old cottage in Fountain Square, Indianapolis, to the US Green Building Council’s rigorous LEED for Homes standard to show how distressed urban properties can be given new life as healthful, efficient homes.

In addition to reaching for the LEED Platinum certification level, GreenPath Homes is leading professional-level green building education and an extensive homeowner and community awareness campaign.  A 10-person project team has been planning the renovation and will document the credits for certification.  Open houses during and after construction will allow the public see inside the walls of a green home, and the project’s blog can be followed at

“This home will be the first LEED Platinum renovation in Indiana, and the second oldest home in the Midwest to receive this standard,” says William Wagnon, principal at GreenPath Homes and a LEED Accredited Professional for homes. “I hope homeowners, developers and even ‘flippers’ will take note of what new life can be possible with the City’s abandoned houses.”

Acquired through Southeast Neighborhood Development’s (SEND) Transfer and Transform Program, the home at 1055 Elm Street was once on a list of properties slated for demolition.  The planned renovation seeks to preserve character and charm of the 960sf, 2-bed 1-bath home, while updating the space use for modern lifestyles.  The home will also receive a deep energy retrofit including insulation, air sealing, high efficiency HVAC and Energy Star appliances. The energy model projects the home could be 40% more efficient than a standard home and 30% more efficient than an Energy Star home.

In committing to the LEED process, the project must also focus particular attention on:

  • Durability measures
  • Indoor air quality
  • Water efficiency strategies and storm water management
  • Environmentally preferable products and finishes

Being located within blocks of the heart of Fountain Square and the Cultural Trail, the home also has excellent access to community resources and public transportation, another component recognized in the LEED for Homes rating system.

The renovation is expected to get underway in December and be completed in just 2 to 3 months.  After work is complete, the home will be offered for sale.

William Wagnon, LEED AP for Homes, has been renovating distressed urban properties in Indianapolis since 2005, and recently organized GreenPath Homes to consult and contract with homeowners and developers for better urban living spaces.  His passion is smartly-designed small residential projects where he can preserve the charm of older homes and update their function for current lifestyles.

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Ann Arbor Rehab, Green Building, Green Business

Ann Arbor Michigan, a hot bed for sustainable home development is at it again

with a LEED for Homes registered gut rehab that is on track to be Platinum Certified as well as net zero site energy. Dubbed the Rancho Deluxe project, this ambitious rehab will feature both the Atomic Zero Home and a new structure and the home offices of Urban Ashes, a small business owned and operated by Paul Hickman. This home will feature geothermal, occupancy sensors, 10 kws of PV, mostly locally sourced or re used products, storm water reduction, native meadow installed and more. The Urban Ashes Studio addition is rumored to be one of Ann Arbor’s first straw bale wall assemblies once approved by the city and the studio it self is an authentic sustainable business with a triple bottom line. The company utilizes otherwise thrown out city trees to build furniture and picture frames while employing transitional/disabled labor. The company was recently featured in a local West Michigan news story based in a made in Michigan edition

Habitat for Humanity Research Home

A Green Future in the past – Habitat Registers 100th LEED Home in Grand Rapids

After dozens of new and gut-rehab LEED projects, the Grand Rapids, Michigan Habitat for Humanity affiliate is ready to begin a new era. That happens to be a really old era too.  

With LEED for Homes-registered project #100, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County will start work on their ambitious “Wealthy Heights” neighborhood effort to rebuild homes built in the 1880’s as affordable, workforce housing. After building one new LEED platinum home (Grand Rapid’s 1st!) and preserving a single-family home and a two-unit in Wealthy Heights over the last couple years, Habitat is ready to start seven more projects this fall. It will also coincide with major road and infrastructure improvements by the City of Grand Rapids. Neighbors in Wealthy Heights get ready for construction season!

The neighbors and business owners who have led the revitalization effort in this neighborhood over the last three decades made it possible for Habitat to step into the mix. Being historic has been a challenge and a blessing but now become a really desirable location for our home buyer partner families,” said Habitat’s Chris Hall.

As Director of Strategic Initiatives, Hall has been part of this project since 2009 when it was first brought to Habitat. With a history of results, Habitat Kent was in the right place at the right time. “It all happened as we were starting to look at ways to become more effective in transforming entire neighborhoods through our work.”

Since then, Habitat has completed the three home projects but also built a community garden and hosted an AmeriCorps Signature Service Project which offered basic exterior repairs, landscaping and a fresh coat of paint for home owners on Donald Place SE.

“We’ve seen residents show up at hearings in support, out working on site, and they have embraced our new families as part of the neighborhood. For-profit builders are doing work in the neighborhood too. This week I heard from folks as far away as New York City regarding a possible LEED-ND certification. Considering we haven’t even begun the major work yet you’d have to say it’s already been an amazing success story.”

After committing to 100% LEED for Homes certification in 2007, Habitat Kent has gone one to become recognized internationally as a leader in affordable, sustainable design and construction. In fact, they were awarded for “Outstanding Program Commitment” to LEED for Homes at the 2011 Greenbuild Conference and Expo in Toronto.

While the positive energy surrounding this project is building, Hall says there is still opportunity for you to help, “We are always looking for partners—either through financial contributions, donations of materials or professional services, as volunteers on site and even as home buyers.” Anyone can visit to find out more. “Someone can even gain LEED project experience to use toward a LEED AP credential through Habitat! Anyone interested sustainable design will find something cool about this project.”

Future posts will feature a profile of the 100th registered home at 327 Freyling Place SE as well as the other upcoming and completed projects.

Research is being done by MSU and FSU students and faculty with support from Dow and Habitat. They begin with the lowest cost and simplest forms of energy efficiency including cans of spray foam at joints and in gaps, spray foam in rim joists, and other air sealing measures. From there they will test other wall insulation and mechanical system combinations. At each step the homes are tested and analyzed.

Habitat Director of Strategic Initiatives Chris Hall enjoys seeing young people included in the project, “The Michigan State and Ferris State students have really been on the frontline the whole way and they’re getting their hands dirty—in a good way. What they’re learning will directly be applied to what they do in their careers in architecture, engineering, construction management or beyond. And that their work on these homes specifically will benefit a low-income family is especially cool.”

More details on the research project

 Want to learn more about affordable Green/LEED major rehabs to existing homes? Free recorded webinar on Habitat’s success here  Need CEUs for watching this? Email us

Building Deconstruction Workshop – Fri June 18

Many LEED for Homes projects use deconstruction. Come to an affordable ($25.00!) full-day workshop that will examine new business and employment opportunities springing up in Northern Illinois and nationally connected with the growing movement toward deconstruction and reuse of building materials.

Building Community Assets through Deconstruction and Material Reuse
9AM – 3 PM on Friday, June 18th, 2010
University Center of Lake County, Grayslake Campus Read more

Deconstruction as Alternative to Demolition

The LEED for Homes rating system rewards projects that are developed on sites that have been previously developed, and many project teams take advantage of good existing neighborhoods with access to transportation and services rather than building on raw land. Sometimes, a site is chosen where the existing structure is so damaged or functionally obsolete that it is necessary to start over.

LEED for Homes - Existing Home Deconstruction

In the past, these homes would be torn down in a matter of days, with tons of debris being sent to landfills. An increasingly common alternative to demolition is “De-Construction”. Read more