With the smaller size and massive scope of work approved, Doug Selby recalls that it only then dawned on them to check into LEED certification for the home. LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a rating system administered by the U.S. Green Building Council.
“The LEED Platinum certification was actually kind of an afterthought,” says Selby. “Michael and I were walking down the street after our meeting with the clients, and I told him I thought this would score pretty highly on the LEED certification program. I went back and found out that the project was LEED Platinum by a significant margin. So, I think the broader beauty of this project is that we planned on remodeling their house to these stringencies all along. It wasn’t like we had to go through a lot of extra stuff, or the clients had to spend a lot of extra money to get this done. It is just where the project ended up.”
The design solution required that the rear portion of the building, constructed in 1924, be removed with all salvageable materials repurposed for inclusion in the new addition and other new structures. It involved a new basement, as well as a new rear first and second floor shaped in a T. This form worked well as it created the perfect location for an L-shaped wrap-around porch.
The specific green features included: a basement foundation created from insulating concrete forms or ICFs — advanced framing techniques that use 20 percent less lumber replaced with more insulation; geothermal heating and cooling; an on-demand tankless water heater with a PEX manifold water distribution system; low-flow and ultra-low-flow plumbing fixtures; low- and no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) finishing building materials; a heat-recovery ventilation (HRV) system with HEPA filter; spray polyurethane foam (SPF) air-barrier insulation and Energy Star appliances and fixtures.
Another important feature was a “hot-roof” assembly using Demelec open cell insulation on the underside deck of the roof deck. Most attics are vented, notes Klement, which subjects those spaces to extremes in temperatures. By insulating the attic, water pipes and HVAC equipment can be run through the space without the added cost of heating and cooling losses caused by the air or water passing through extreme temperatures.
In the category of repurposed building materials, perhaps the most fitting were old-growth 2-in. by 12-in. timbers that Selby reclaimed from a commercial building renovation on the same street 10 years prior. Selby could not bear to send them to the waste heap, so he kept them. They were used as stair treads where their color and character added a lot to the execution.
When it comes to designing and remodeling green, Selby and Klement are ahead of the pack. What they find particularly satisfying about this project was the unanticipated nature of the certification. It was the result of a fortunate marriage of clients and a design/build team and the natural outcome was a deeply green, classic American home. To that end, Klement feels other remodelers contemplating going green should focus on energy conservation as a starting point.
“Before you worry about the energy you create (solar), worry about what you conserve,” says Klement. “So we did a super-performing insulation package. We used advanced framing techniques and a hot-roof assembly. We spent a lot of time focusing on reducing the amount of energy lost. And that is the kind of focus that helped us earn this certification.”
Fast Facts About the Project:
- Architect: Michael Klement, AIA, Architectural Resource
- Remodeler: Doug Selby, Meadowlark Builders
- Project location: Ann Arbor, Mich.
- Date remodel began: December 2007
- Date remodel completed: January 2009
- Square footage before: 1,330
- Square footage after: 1,864
- Total project cost including materials and labor: $420,000