LEED Platinum

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A Visit to a LEED Platinum Office Building

This high-rise building in Manitoba has high indoor air quality and low energy bills

Posted on Mar 10 2017 by Martin Holladay
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While I’ve designed a few single-family homes, I’m well aware that designing a high-rise office building is a whole ’nother kettle of fish. The challenge is far greater — at least an order-of-magnitude greater — requiring an experienced team that includes architects, structural engineers, mechanical engineers, and energy consultants.


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Image Credits:

  1. Image #1: KrazyTea / Wikimedia Commons
  2. Images #2 through #6: Martin Holladay
  3. Image #7: Manitoba Hydro
  4. Image #8: Martin Holladay
  5. Image #9: KPMB Architects
  6. Images #10 and #11: Martin Holladay
  7. Images #12 and #13: Transsolar
  8. Images #14 through #17: Martin Holladay

New California Home Meets the Passivhaus Standard

Climate Zone 4, San Jose, CA

Apr 27 2015 By | 0 comments

General Specs and Team

Location: Climate Zone 4, San Jose, CA
Bedrooms: 5
Bathrooms: 3.5
Living Space : 3198 sqf
Cost (USD/sq. ft.): $350/sqf

Design-BuildCompany that handles house design and construction. Since both services are provided by the same firm, integrated design can often be more easily achieved. Team: Allen Gilliland and Bronwyn Barry, One Sky Homes

Construction

Foundation: ICFInsulated concrete form. Hollow insulated forms, usually made from expanded polystyrene (EPS), used for building walls (foundation and above-ground); after stacking and stabilizing the forms, the aligned cores are filled with concrete, which provides the wall structure. crawl space walls, total of 4 in. of EPSExpanded polystyrene. Type of rigid foam insulation that, unlike extruded polystyrene (XPS), does not contain ozone-depleting HCFCs. EPS frequently has a high recycled content. Its vapor permeability is higher and its R-value lower than XPS insulation. EPS insulation is classified by type: Type I is lowest in density and strength and Type X is highest. plus 8 in. concrete (R-22 for perimeter wall).

Crawl space floor: 4 in. of crushed stone, polyethylene vapor barrier, 3 in. horizontal EPS (R-14), concrete slab.

Above-grade walls: 2x6 24 in. o.c., advanced framed, R-23 dense-packed cellulose cavity insulation plus 1-in. EPS over plywood sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. ; ¼-in. plastic mesh to create ventilated rain screen; housewrap, wire lath; traditional 3-coat stucco claddingMaterials used on the roof and walls to enclose a house, providing protection against weather. .

Windows: Serious & Sorpethaler wood-framed windows with low-eLow-emissivity coating. Very thin metallic coating on glass or plastic window glazing that permits most of the sun’s short-wave (light) radiation to enter, while blocking up to 90% of the long-wave (heat) radiation. Low-e coatings boost a window’s R-value and reduce its U-factor. argonInert (chemically stable) gas, which, because of its low thermal conductivity, is often used as gas fill between the panes of energy-efficient windows. -filled triple glazingWhen referring to windows or doors, the transparent or translucent layer that transmits light. High-performance glazing may include multiple layers of glass or plastic, low-e coatings, and low-conductivity gas fill.; SHGCSolar heat gain coefficient. The fraction of solar gain admitted through a window, expressed as a number between 0 and 1.=0.49 on south and SHGC=0.29 on north, east, and west windows; U=0.2.

Roof/ceiling construction: R-51 blown cellulose on attic floor; raised-heel trusses; foil-faced radiant barrier sheathing; asphalt shingles; continuous eave and ridge vents.

HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building.: Split-system air-source heat pumpHeat pump that relies on outside air as the heat source and heat sink; not as effective in cold climates as ground-source heat pumps.; SEER(SEER) The efficiency of central air conditioners is rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the SEER rating of a unit, the more energy efficient it is. The SEER rating is Btu of cooling output during a typical hot season divided by the total electric energy in watt-hours to run the unit. For residential air conditioners, the federal minimum is 13 SEER. For an Energy Star unit, 14 SEER. Manufacturers sell 18-20 SEER units, but they are expensive. 21, HSPF 10.

Energy

Blower-door testTest used to determine a home’s airtightness: a powerful fan is mounted in an exterior door opening and used to pressurize or depressurize the house. By measuring the force needed to maintain a certain pressure difference, a measure of the home’s airtightness can be determined. Operating the blower door also exaggerates air leakage and permits a weatherization contractor to find and seal those leakage areas. results: 0.57 ach50

Estimated energy use: 10,000 kWh/year, of which 2,000 kWh is for heating and cooling

Estimated annual utility costs: Without PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow., $1,972; with PV $0.

Estimated annual energy cost savings: (When compared to a home built to the 2008 California Title 24 Energy Code) Without PV $1,095; with PV: $2,900.

Actual annual energy use (2013): Not counting the electric vehicle, the house used 9,325 kWh. PV production exceeded use by 1,492 kWh. Including electric vehicle charging, the PV array produced 84% of the total site electricity consumption.

PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. system: 6.4 kW of PV (28 panels, each 230 watts)

Solar thermal system: 3 solar thermal collectors are connected to a solar storage tank; backup provided by a gas-fired, 96% efficient condensing tank-type water heater.

Appliances: Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. clothes washer, dishwasher, refrigerator/freezer

Lighting: 40% CFLCompact fluorescent lamp. Fluorescent lightbulb in which the tube is folded or twisted into a spiral to concentrate the light output. CFLs are typically three to four times as efficient as incandescent lightbulbs, and last eight to ten times as long. CFLs combine the efficiency of fluorescent light with the convenience of an Edison or screw-in base, and new types have been developed that better mimic the light quality of incandescents. Not all CFLs can be dimmed, and frequent on-off cycling can shorten their life. Concerns have been raised over the mercury content of CFLs, and though they have been deemed safe, proper recycling and disposal is encouraged. , 40% LEDLight-emitting diode. Illumination technology that produces light by running electrical current through a semiconductor diode. LED lamps are much longer lasting and much more energy efficient than incandescent lamps; unlike fluorescent lamps, LED lamps do not contain mercury and can be readily dimmed. and 20% halogen; vacancy sensors in all rooms. Closets, bath heaters, and utility lighting on count-down timers. All exterior lighting is Energy Star rated and on timers with photocell shut-offs.

Other: Energy management system. Electric vehicle charging station with prewiring for a second charger

Water Efficiency

• Low-flow plumbing fixtures

GraywaterWastewater from a building that does not include flush-water from toilets and (as most commonly defined) water from kitchen sinks or dishwashers. In some places, graywater can be collected and used for subsurface irrigation. irrigation system

• On-demand hot waterSystem to quickly deliver hot water to a bathroom or kitchen when needed, without wasting the water that has been sitting in the hot-water pipes, which circulates back to the water heater. recirculation with occupancy sensors

Indoor Air Quality

HRV(HRV). Balanced ventilation system in which most of the heat from outgoing exhaust air is transferred to incoming fresh air via an air-to-air heat exchanger; a similar device, an energy-recovery ventilator, also transfers water vapor. HRVs recover 50% to 80% of the heat in exhausted air. In hot climates, the function is reversed so that the cooler inside air reduces the temperature of the incoming hot air. with MERV 13 filters, 84% sensible heat recovery efficiency.

Night Ventilation (economizer) with MERV 13 filters.

Meets or exceeds EPA indoor airPLUS verification checklist.

Certification

  1. PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates.
  2. LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. Platinum
  3. DOEUnited States Department of Energy. WaterSenseProgram developed and administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to promote and label water-efficient plumbing fixtures.
  4. EPA Indoor Air Plus
  5. DOE Zero Energy Ready

ICFs and advanced framing techniques used throughout

This energy-efficient house in San Jose, California, not only produces enough solar electricity to meet its annual energy needs, it also complies with the stringent PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. standard.

The design-buildCompany that handles house design and construction. Since both services are provided by the same firm, integrated design can often be more easily achieved. team of Allen Gilliland and Bronwyn Barry of One Sky Homes were behind the spec home and succeeded in meeting the Passivhaus standard and the performance requirements of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home program.

Lessons Learned

Gilliland is looking forward to the day when smart heat pumps will integrate all of the HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. functions — heating, cooling, HRV(HRV). Balanced ventilation system in which most of the heat from outgoing exhaust air is transferred to incoming fresh air via an air-to-air heat exchanger; a similar device, an energy-recovery ventilator, also transfers water vapor. HRVs recover 50% to 80% of the heat in exhausted air. In hot climates, the function is reversed so that the cooler inside air reduces the temperature of the incoming hot air. balanced ventilationMechanical ventilation system in which separate, balanced fans exhaust stale indoor air and bring in fresh outdoor air in equal amounts; often includes heat recovery or heat and moisture recovery (see heat-recovery ventilator and energy-recovery ventilator). , and night cooling — into one system with one controller for the homeowner. He noted that the 2013 California Energy Code, which went into effect July 1, 2014, makes mechanical night ventilation prescriptive in some climate zones in California and gives credit for it in other locations in the state.

Bronwyn Barry shed some more light on the cooling system: “It turns out that we didn’t need such a large mechanical cooling system which we installed in this project. We’ve found that we can eliminate additional cooling systems because in our climate we can use a minisplit in conjunction with the HRV in bypass mode to supply all the cooling we need.”

Barry said that the design of the project evolved once they decided to go for the Passivhaus standard. “The house wasn’t originally designed for the Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. standard but we discovered and used the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) after the design was set. That allowed us to dial in everything on this house to meet our NZE performance targets." And this change now informs their latest projects. "We’ve moved away from designs that include too many bump-outs. Our newer projects are much simpler shapes as they are more cost-effective for high efficiency.”

The firm's approach to air sealing also evolved, said Barry: “One thing we now do differently: Instead of using the drywall ceiling as an air barrierBuilding assembly components that work as a system to restrict air flow through the building envelope. Air barriers may or may not act as a vapor barrier. The air barrier can be on the exterior, the interior of the assembly, or both., which proved difficult because of all our lighting penetrations, we now establish the air barrier on the exterior roof sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. . We typically apply an elastomeric liquid sealant to the plywood layer around our whole building envelopeExterior components of a house that provide protection from colder (and warmer) outdoor temperatures and precipitation; includes the house foundation, framed exterior walls, roof or ceiling, and insulation, and air sealing materials.. This is then covered with rigid exterior insulation, a WRB and a rainscreenConstruction detail appropriate for all but the driest climates to prevent moisture entry and to extend the life of siding and sheathing materials; most commonly produced by installing thin strapping to hold the siding away from the sheathing by a quarter-inch to three-quarters of an inch. finish layer.”

Gilliland said One Sky has enjoyed the experience of learning from this project and is committed to zero energy construction. His only concern is motivating buyers to seek it out. “Once people experience it, they want it. Our customers will tell you, you just can’t believe it. It’s so much better living in these homes. People just haven’t heard enough about it yet.”

That may change soon, in California anyway. The California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission have adopted as a goal that all new residential construction will be zero net energy by 2020.


Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy

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Image Credits:

  1. One Sky Homes

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It’s Alive! – Visiting a Certified Living Building

In Hawaii, I visited a school with an energy lab that met the Living Building Challenge

Posted on Oct 30 2014 by Carl Seville

On vacation in Hawaii recently (yes, life is really tough for us consultants), I had the opportunity to visit the Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s Energy Lab, the first classroom and the third building certified under the Living Building Challenge Program.


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  1. All photos: Carl Seville

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LEED-Platinum Skyscraper is an ‘Energy Hog’

Praised at its dedication in 2010, this 55-story building in New York City uses more energy per square foot than its 80-year-old neighbor

Posted on Aug 2 2013 by Scott Gibson

Opened in 2010, the Bank of America Tower in New York City was praised as a model of sustainability. But the LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. -Platinum building has proved to be anything but, according to an article by Sam Roudman in the New Republic.


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Image Credits:

  1. Allaboutskyscrapers.com

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A Net-Zero Campus in New York City

Cornell University plans to build a new energy-efficient Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island in the East River

Posted on Oct 31 2011 by Richard Defendorf

Roosevelt Island is technically part of the borough of Manhattan, but it has a distinct identity. Some of that has to do with its 19th-century history, when it was home to a lockup for convicts and institutions such as the Smallpox Hospital and New York City Lunatic Asylum.


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Image Credits:

  1. Illustration by Cornell University / photo by Getty Images (image 1), Cornell University (images 2 and 3)

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A LEED Debate in San Francisco

A newsweekly raises familiar questions about LEED certification and energy use — in this case for a luxury condo development

Posted on Jul 22 2011 by Richard Defendorf

U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification program has once again attracted a mixture of criticism and curiosity, this time in relation to a luxury condominium project planned for one of the most scenic settings on the San Francisco waterfront.


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Image Credits:

  1. San Francisco Waterfront Partners LLC

Gut Rehab Creates Office Space With an Apartment Above

Portland, ME

Feb 3 2011 By Peter Yost | 4 comments

General Specs and Team

Location: Portland, ME
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 1
Living Space : 1600 sqf

This space is a full floor of loft residence above an equivalent area of office space below.

Design and Project Management: Richard Renner, Richard Renner Architects

Design collaboration and interiors: Janet Friskey, Friskey Design

Engineering:

Becker Structural Engineering

Petersen Engineers

Marc Rosenbaum, Energysmiths

Terry Brennan, Camroden

Lighting: J&M Lighting Design

Construction: Kolbert Building

Millwork: Wright-Ryan Construction

Interior finished metalwork: Jon Chalfant, Chalfant Design

Energy

- R-54 roof
- R-34 above-grade walls
- Accurate-Dorwin triple-glazed windows (U-factor=0.15; SHGC=0.29)
- Tankless gas water heating (0.95 AFUE)
- Baxi Luna condensing boiler
- Ductless mini-split air conditioning (13 SEER)
- Energy Star fluorescent lighting & appliances

1 kW PV system, grid-tied

Water Efficiency

- Toto toilets
- low-flow faucets
- Delta low-flow showerhead
- GreenGrid roof trays

Indoor Air Quality

- Low or no-VOC paint throughout
- Formaldehyde-free plywood for cabinet structures
- RenewAire HRV

Green Materials and Resource Efficiency

- Recycled doors
- FSC-certified birch flooring & wood trim
- FSC-certified framing
- Wheatcore interior doors
- Bamboo plywood cabinetry
- Recycled-content tile
- PaperStone counters

Certification

USGBC LEED for Homes Platinum

In Portland, Maine, a leading green architect walks the talk on his home and office, achieving LEED Platinum

Architect Richard Renner and his wife Janet Friskey, a graphic designer, wanted a commute in downtown Portland, Maine that involved just a flight of stairs. “We jumped at the opportunity to purchase an old clothing store with an apartment above,” says Richard.

That turned out to be the easy part. “Our goals for the first-floor office and residence loft were an efficient building envelope, plenty of daylighting to the interior, and open floor plans for both spaces. And while we were at it, make the loft a LEED for Homes Platinum gut rehab.”

Lessons Learned

Richard Renner is very forthcoming about what worked well and what did not on his projects. Here are his lessons learned on their Portland loft:

The high windows in the clerestory are only ten feet above the windows on the main level, but this is enough of a difference to create air flow for natural ventilation. These high windows deliver sufficient daylight on all but the darkest days. A shade, which was planned but omitted for budget reasons, would have reduced solar gain in the summer.

The bathroom has no windows, but Solartube skylights provide plenty of daylight.

An unexpected benefit of triple glazing is that the loft is quiet in spite of its urban location.

The loft’s open plan and long interior views make it feel larger than its actual size.

Locating the heat-recovery ventilator above the bathroom ceiling makes maintenance more difficult. However, there was no other place to put it.

Recessing the windows to maximize size and thermal efficiency required complicated head, jamb, and sill flashing. Snow frozen on the deep sill occasionally restricts the operation of the awning windows.

At today’s prices, the 1-kW grid-tied photovoltaic system is not cost-effective. The building geometry created a less-than-optimal collector orientation, and the adjacent building and nearby trees reduced the solar aperture.

If Renner had it to do over again, he would install an induction cooktop instead of the gas cooktop.

And here is a closing comment that Richard believes about all of his work: “There is no conflict between high levels of building performance and good design.”

For more information, see Richard Renner's Fine Homebuilding article on this project: "A Brick Rehab Meets LEED's Highest Standards."


Peter Yost

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Image Credits:

  1. James R Salomon
  2. Richard Renner
  3. Peter Vanderwarker
  4. Fine Homebuidling

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Canada’s First Residential Passivhaus Building

Rideau Residences, a duplex in Ottawa, was aiming for LEED Platinum, but ended up earning Passivhaus certification as well

Posted on Feb 1 2011 by Richard Defendorf

Chris Straka, principal at Vert Design in Ottawa, Canada, apparently didn’t intend to meet the PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. standard when he built his three-story duplex in the city’s Edinburgh neighborhood.


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Image Credits:

  1. All images Vert Design Inc.

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Greening the Way to LEED Platinum, Hamptons-style

A nonprofit group promoting ecologically friendly houses landed the top LEED rating for its premiere project, a 4,890-sq.-ft. home in Southampton, New York

Posted on Jan 3 2011 by Richard Defendorf

It's no surprise that many people who have the financial resources to build big houses are nowadays building them with environmentally friendly materials and systems that will reduce their reliance on the grid. Some are energy efficient, some are loaded with renewable-energy systems, and many incorporate both.


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Image Credits:

  1. Hamptons Green Alliance

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Big Home, LEED Platinum Rating, but Still a Slow Sell

Landing Platinum certification was one thing for this California luxury-home project, finding a buyer was another

Posted on Dec 1 2010 by Richard Defendorf

How much is a green rating worth in Southern California’s Orange County? On average, homes in the county, particularly in its more prosperous neighborhoods, recently have been listing well north of $700,000, according to real estate search engine Trulia. But for prospective buyers looking in the above-average price category, and even at luxury homes, adding green credentials to the list of extras isn't guaranteed to work marketing magic.


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Image Credits:

  1. Brian Egan Photography / David Gangloff Architects

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