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Helenowski Net Zero home in Chicago

Helenowski LEED Platinum Gut Rehab showcases urban zero energy

Chicago’s Yannell residence has gained a lot of notoriety as the first “net-zero” home in the city – capable of producing as much energy as it consumes. Yet another home on Chicago’s far northwest side, the Helenowski Residence, has joined the prestigious ranks of ultra-green LEED Platinum homes. In fact, it’s one of the highest overall point totals ever achieved for a LEED-certified home.

Helenowski Residence - Chicago Net-Zero LEED Platinum Home

Net-Zero LEED Platinum Home – Zukas Photography

This incredibly energy-efficient home was actually a gut-rehab of Helenowski Residence Scorecard a 1950’s brick split-level home, with a major addition, resulting in 3,300 total square feet. The owner has done an incredible amount of work focusing on the Materials and Resources as well as Energy and Atmosphere areas of the home. Some of the sample strategies include:

  • All drywall was recycled-content (for a $1 per sheet premium)
  • Salvaged douglas fir from 1800’s fire-damaged building for ceiling
  • Reuse or salvage for all new interior framing members
  • Diversion of +90% construction debris
  • Reclaimed copper for roofing and gutters
The home also has some exemplary energy characteristics that helped achieve a remarkable HERS score of 13, meaning the home uses 87% less energy than a new home built to code.
The remarkable energy performance was achieved by using soy-based spray foam insulation and a meticulous attention to air sealing in the project. The technical data is quite impressive. The blower door testing gave a result of 604 CFM at 50 Pascals.  With an estimated volume of 37,725 cubic feet of volume in the house, the air changes per hour at 50 Pa was 1.02, and the air changes per hour at natural pressure is .07. In other words, the home is very tight.
Other strategies contributing to the home’s energy performance include:
  • Triple-paned Pella windows with FSC-certified lumber.
  • Geothermal ground source heat pump for HVAC.
  • Solar photovoltaic panels and a vertical-axis wind turbine to generate electricity.
  • Motorized blinds control solar heat gain on west-facing (front) windows.
  • Extremely efficient cold-cathode lighting, up to six times more efficient than LEDs.
  • Roof is partially reflective white and part vegetative green roof.
The is truly a remarkable addition to the Chicago area’s growing green building inventory and offers many lessons for other builders in the area.  Detailed strategies with photos are available at the project’s web site, www.leedhomeliving.com, as well as by downloading the 1-page PDF Helenowski Project Profile that has assembled.
Download the 1-page PDF Helenowski Project Profile

Double-Up Points in MR 2.2 with Reclaimed Materials

The Materials and Resources (MR) credit 2.2 is one of the more challenging areas of LEED for Homes to get a handle on. First of all, the unique aspect in LEED for Homes is that credit is awarded on a building component – by – building component basis. This is significantly different from other versions of LEED.  For instance, a project can earn credit just for flooring.

Additionally, there are many options for how a certain building component actually earns credit 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.

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

LEED for Homes Myth #1: FSC lumber

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Sometimes, a LEED for Homes project team comes to the table with the expectation that they are required to use FSC-certified lumber in their LEED for Homes projects. Perhaps this comes from confusion with other LEED rating systems used for commercial construction, which does have a prerequisite for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) lumber. Read more