- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The doors have been thrown open on the CharityWorks GreenHouse in McLean, touted as the first carbon-neutral house on the East Coast.

The 4,200-square-foot property was built through a partnership between CharityWorks, a local nonprofit; West Group Development, a commercial real estate development firm; and GreenSpur Inc., a developer that has made sustainable solutions part of its mission.

Mark Lowham, senior vice president of West Group, explains that his company decided to design the house and fund the project because “this is a tangible piece of evidence that real sustainability is within our reach. We are raising awareness that a new generation of builders can be energy-efficient.”

Mr. Lowham chose the home’s location so it would be within walking distance of a “grocery story, drugstore and dry cleaner, and public transportation” to further limit the inhabitants’ carbon footprint.

Mark Turner, the founder and chief executive of GreenSpur, who brought the idea to Mr. Lowham, says the four-bedroom house not only serves as an example of the accessibility and feasibility of green building, but also showcases the elegance and luxury possible in green decor.

Under the direction of Barry Dixon, a Virginia designer who has worked on projects around the world, 18 interior designers donated their time and talent on the house. The completed rooms are not only warm and inviting, but also environmentally friendly.

Interior decorator Victoria Neale, who serves on the home’s design committee, says she and the team of designers found the project’s mission to be fulfilling. She was tasked with designing the dining room, where she used recycled curtains and a hemp rug. The fabrics on the wall are of eco-friendly linen.

Other amenities in the house include a solar hot-water system, an underground geothermal system for heating and cooling, and a “smart house system” by AMX that monitors energy and electricity usage in every room so the dwellers know how much energy is consumed while they perform everyday activities such as cooking and laundry.

Mr. Turner says he expects the house to be sold for more than $2 million, but before it goes on the market this fall, CharityWorks has put out the welcome mat to encourage visitors to see the house and at the same time raise funds for local organizations.

Until Oct. 30, tour tickets can be purchased online for $25 or at the door for $30. Proceeds will benefit the Friendship Public Charter School, the McLean Project for the Arts, the Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

On Wednesday night, Mr. Turner and Philippe Cousteau, chief executive of EarthEcho International and a CharityWorks partner, are hosting a fundraiser for young professionals to encourage green building among that age group.

Tickets for tonight’s party and for tours can be purchased at https://charityworks greenhouse.com.

Fire and Ice

The American Red Cross is holding its 2009 Fire and Ice Ball — A Salute to Our Nation’s Armed Forces and Their Families — Saturday night at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium on Constitution Avenue Northwest.

Among the expected 600 guests will be Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli and wounded service members from Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The gala will be emceed by CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier.

The annual event celebrates the work of the regional Red Cross, which serves nearly 1,000 families a year in the national capital region.

This event is sold out, but for more information, contact Kathy Thompson at the American Red Cross National Capital Area Chapter at 703/584-8412.

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