- The Washington Times - Friday, January 15, 2010

Green building has become a catchphrase for a variety of practices, including developing homes in areas where residents can walk to work or use public transportation, increasing the energy efficiency of homes, and using sustainable materials for construction.

Jerry Yudelson, a green building consultant and the principal of Yudelson Associates in Tucson, Ariz., said he anticipates that a major green building trend in 2010 will be a switch in focus from new buildings to existing buildings.

In the District, Greenspur Inc., a design/build firm specializing in carbon-neutral building, and TriCon Construction, which specializes in air sealing and insulating, have worked together to retrofit a Civil War-era home on Capitol Hill to bring it up to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum-level standards.

“We wanted to show people that you can build a green home with a high level of energy efficiency without breaking the bank or reinventing the wheel,” said Nick Cioff, director of construction for Greenspur. “Too many people say that green building is too difficult or too expensive, and we wanted to take away those excuses.”

Renovating the residence at 19 Fourth St. NE, which dates to 1852, required working in a difficult physical environment, as well as meeting high regulatory standards. Because the home is located just four blocks from the U.S. Capitol, oversized building supplies needed to be inspected for security reasons. The builders also were required to meet strict historical standards so the facade would closely resemble the original structure.

“We discovered that the exterior had siding on top of stucco on top of cladding, most of which was rotting,” Mr. Cioff said. “We ended up using modern green materials to replicate the original facade.”

Greenspur wanted to double the size of the home while maintaining the original footprint of the property. Going from 900 square feet to 2,200 square feet on the same lot involved adding a three-story warehouse-style wall of glass to the back of the home.

Now on the market for $939,900, this home has four bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths. The lower level has been completed and inspected as a separate living space, if desired, and has a Certificate of Occupancy so it can be legally rented.

Mr. Cioff said the property was in far worse condition than they anticipated, requiring that more than 20 Dumpsters of dirt and debris be removed by hand. The project was particularly challenging because of the tight building conditions.

The home, marketed as “D.C.’s first carbon-neutral home,” includes a variety of green features, including the reuse of as many materials as possible from the original home.

“The two most important elements of making this home extremely energy efficient are to combine insulation and cutting-edge technology,” Mr. Cioff said. “All the technology in the world is great, but if the building doesn’t have enough insulation, it doesn’t matter.”

Greenspur used the Owens Corning Energy Complete insulation system for the home, a geothermal heating and air-conditioning system, energy-efficient windows, solar tube lighting, Energy Star appliances, and an ethanol fireplace. The home has a Smart Home System, which calculates the power being used at all times. The builders reused old house timbers and reclaimed heart-of-pine flooring from a textile mill in Virginia. The kitchen cabinets and counters are made from partially recycled materials, and low-flow shower and vanity fixtures were installed.

“We were able to model our home on a computer to estimate utility costs based on the home’s orientation and the seasons, and we estimate that the cost of utilities for this home will cost at most about $100 per month,” Mr. Cioff said. “My house, which is similar in size and location, costs about 2.5 times that amount for utilities.”

Mr. Cioff explained that the company’s goal was to develop a home which, while meeting high green standards, also could be priced comparable to other homes on the market in the neighborhood.

For more information about this home, call Realtor Kathy Brandel at Urban Pace at 202/841-3462 or visit www.greenspur.net.

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