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West Virginia Gets First LEED-Platinum Certified Home

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Charles Pickering, the founder and CEO of architectural and engineering firm Pickering Associates, recently received a LEED-Platinum rating for his project at 12 Faith Meadows in Williamstown, WV. This is the first LEED Platinum certified home in West Virginia, and boasts of 11 kWDC of generation capacity. The solar system is located in an optimal array on the house and garage roof, and provides all the energy usage needs for the household, with some to sell back through the power grid. The house received a LEED Point Score of 113 and a HERS rating of .43.

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Petworth Rowhouse Received a Net-Zero Rating

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Washington-based builder Tanya Topolewski recently completed the rehab of a 90-year-old rowhouse in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington DC at 411 Varnum Street. The four bedroom and 3.5 bathroom rowhouse was rebuilt from the ground up with the aim of achieving net zero status. The builders are also seeking the LEED Platinum certification for the house.

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The final design went through 15 alterations before the right mix of energy efficiency was settled upon. The east-west position of the house was a hindrance, but the roof was fitted with the maximum number of solar panels that it can hold, which are designed to provide the energy for the entire house. The solar panels were all installed at the maximum 25-degree tilt, since a greater angle would have been a wind hazard. On the final audit, the house received a 0 score on the HERS index. However, the auditor warned that whether the solar panels will produce sufficient energy to keep the house at net-zero will depend on the energy usage habits of the new owner.

All exterior walls of the house were insulated to between R25 to R35, which was achieved through the use of dense pack cellulose or dense pack cellulose and polyiso board. Since the HVAC systems design has a considerable impact on energy efficiency, the air handler was placed inside the building envelope. All except one duct are also placed inside the envelope. All of these ducts are in inside spaces, except for the lines in the attic and those lines are buried under a minimum of 10 inches of insulation.

To ensure maximum sealing, low expansion spray foam was used around the doors and windows, while regular expansion spray foam was used to seal the penetrations to the exterior, floor to floor penetrations, and behind band joists. In addition to that, caulk was used to further seal all the framing seams, cracks, joints, corners and sill plates. The drywall was glued to the studs and joists, while the exterior rigid board was overlapped and tape sealed.

The house was fitted with a 15 SEER/8.7 HSPF high efficiency heat pump system, making in 20% more efficient than the minimum required 13 SEER. Furthermore, the house’s HSPF is 8.7, which falls into most the efficient heat pumps range of between 8 to 10. The attic of the rowhouse if also insulated to minimum R60 with blow in cellulose at a depth of 16-20 inches.

The house was also fitted with Energy Star appliances and low-flow fixtures to maximize water efficiency. The windows and doors installed have ratings of SHGC .3 or better and U-factor .3 or better.

During the reconstruction, many items, such as door, window and base trim, interior doors and interior door hardware (handles, mortise locks, decorative plates, hinges and keys), vintage lighting, bath fixtures, framing lumber including studs, 2×6, 2×8, 2×10 and larger and hardwood flooring were removed, cleaned, stored and reused in the final construction.

The costs of the green elements of the house came to $50,000, which includes $25,000 for the solar panels, $10,000 for the energy recovery ventilator, heat pump, hot water heater, windows and insulation, and $15,000 to meet the requirements of the LEED Platinum certification. The house recently sold for $725,000 to Florence Petizon.

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Virginia Homeowners Build a Passivhaus on a Budget

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When it came time to make a home together, Jason and Stephanie Specht wanted to build a sustainable house in Thaxton, VA which is classified as a Climate Zone 4A. Upon consultation with the representatives of Structures Design/Build company they opted for a Passivhaus design. The custom optimized Passivhaus design created by Structures Design/Build allowed the Spechts to achieve cost parity with traditional construction.

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Florida Contractor Builds the First Luxury Net Zero Energy Home

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Marc Rutenberg, the CEO of the Florida company Marc Rutenberg Homes, has recently successfully designed and built a luxury home that complies with and even surpasses all Energy Star standards and is LEED Platinum certified. The Castaway III, as the house is called, measures 4,552-square feet, which is about 3,100 square feet larger than the average zero-energy home. This house proves that there is no need to sacrifice comfort and luxury to reduce one’s carbon footprint.

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Georgetown Rowhouse Renovation Becomes LEED Platinum Showpiece

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In the heart of a densely populated Washington, D.C. neighborhood that has easy access to public transportation and bicycle routes, this historically-protected Georgetown rowhouse (circa 1800s) received a restoration treatment that brought it into the 21st century and helped it to achieve LEED Platinum certification.

Environmentally sustainable modifications to the 3,300 square foot home came in at $269 per square foot and had to be approved by the neighborhood’s stringent historic preservation review process.

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1920s Grocery Store Renovation Uses Passive Sustainability to Inspire Similar Projects

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Incorporated in 1839, Chattanooga, Tennessee was a boom town by the time the railroad arrived in 1850. “Where the cotton meets the corn,” Chattanooga had a strategic cultural location between the north and the south, which put it in proximity of some of the worst of the Civil War battles. By 1969, the industrialized city of Chattanooga had been declared by the federal government to have the nation’s dirtiest air.

Shovel all the coal in

Gotta keep it rollin’

Woo, woo, Chattanooga there you are

-from Chattanooga Choo Choo (words by Mack Gorden, music by Harry Warren)

Recent efforts by the private and government sectors to revitalize areas of downtown and the riverfront have won the city several national and regional awards for livability, excellence in housing, and consolidated planning.

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