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Green Building Curmudgeon

I Found Some Green People!

This renovation project, currently seeking LEED Platinum certification, was built entirely on the original footprint, used surplus windows as a design element, and maintained much of the original house including the kitchen cabinets, which were refinished in a very artistic manner by the owner.

During a recent visit to see my daughter at college in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I had the pleasure of visiting several projects designed by Michael Klement of Architectural Resource and built by Doug Selby of Meadowlark Builders . One house is a LEED Platinum renovation, and another is in the certification process. I had seen photos of both of these homes, but two things struck me when I saw them in person.

First, they are both much more modest in scale than the excellent architectural photography leads you to believe. The pictures make the spaces seem grand, but these homes feel comfortable and cozy. Second, they are both inhabited by the type of “green people” I wrote about in a previous post. Both homes are right sized to the owner’s needs, reused materials throughout, and are managed for efficiency and health through the owners’ behaviors. Simple things like keeping street shoes off in the house, turning off lights, and managing the thermostat are so important but often ignored in our hectic lives.

The LEED Platinum house, a recent winner of several Master Design Awards from Qualified Remodeler Magazine, is a traditional home with some very nice design interior design features. (Full disclosure: I was one of the judges for these awards this summer, and I did know about the project while judging it, but I did my best to remain neutral, and all the judges agreed that it was a fine project. It is also a featured project in the green homes section of GBA.) The other house is about as contemporary as can be with some advanced technologies including a thermal siphon that draws warm air down through underfloor ducts to reuse excess heat. I am interested in finding out how this concept works.

When I see projects like these with involved, committed clients working alongside involved and committed professionals, I (briefly) feel a little nostalgic for my days as a contractor. I find myself feeling a little jealous that I have yet to experience that level of a common goal of sustainability with everyone involved in a project. I see some movement out there, but few projects and professionals show a single-minded direction as these have. I look forward to seeing more work like this in the future.


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