Leigh Varley contributed to this article.
On the second day of the 2014 Greenprints Conference, attendees ventured out of the classroom to experience theory in action by attending workshops across metro Atlanta on subjects ranging from green infrastructure to residential, mixed-use and affordable housing.
The residential workshop took place at Weatherford Place, a Solar Community of EcoCraft Hybrid™ Homes in Roswell designed and constructed by Cadmus Construction. The development has achieved the first Platinum Level LEED for Homes Certification in Georgia, a pioneering feat attained by only five percent of LEED for Homes certification recipients nationwide.
Southface LEED for Homes Project Manager Matthew Anthony, who serves as the energy rater for the development, led attendees on a tour of the first completed home in the development, which will contain eight homes at the close of construction. The home uses passive solar design paired with photovoltaic and solar thermal technologies. Roof overhangs provide shading and solatubes provide the home with natural light. The home is encapsulated with insulating spray foam and the mechanical room is located within the building’s envelope to reduce HVAC losses. These, along with many additional features, contribute to the home’s impressive 25 HERS index score and 104.5 LEED score.
The development includes an innovative, engineered sidewalk and pervious road integration for enhanced stormwater attenuation, rainwater harvesting and water quality management, which reduces estimated irrigation water demand by 80 percent. The development’s exemplary stormwater system contributed to the City of Roswell’s Water First Community certification as well as their Wildlife Habitat City certification.
Following the on-site tour, the group met with the development’s architect and general contractor Simone du Boise of Cadmus Construction, an avid environmentalist who feels a strong connection to the development’s land. Du Boise’s deep-seated sense of responsibility to the land may in part be derived from her close friendship with Louis Weatherford, the development’s namesake and a man who farmed the land for crops such as sweet potatoes and okra for more than 57 years. Her respect for the land is evident not only in the name she chose for the development, but also in the development’s logo, a sketch of the last remaining okra pod found on the site.
Incredibly, the construction cost of a home at Weatherford Place is comparable to that of a conventionally built home. A large source of cost savings can be achieved by integrating material-efficient framing and waste management into the design. “Don’t let the lumber yard tell you how much wood you need,” says du Boise, “you have to do those calculations yourself.” The average construction site in the state of Georgia produces 69 pounds of construction waste per square foot; Weatherford Place produces half a pound. “By committing upfront and incorporating sustainability into the design, you can create a more durable, more efficient home for the same cost as a conventionally built home,” states du Boise.
The integration of sustainable design early in the planning process is vital in the construction of green homes. While this may seem like simple advice in theory, much work is yet to be done before developments such as Weatherford Place establish a new norm.