[twocol_one]Joe Thomas of Elemental Green Homes saw an opportunity during a Greenprints conference six years ago. Hearing a presentation on market trend research, Joe became convinced that the younger generation valued green building more than their parents. He knew that as that generation matured financially, there would be a market for environmentally conscious first-time home buyers. Joe’s business focuses on that market opportunity through the EarthCraft Renovation certification program.
His newest project is a great example of sustainable design and renovation focused on meeting the market for emerging home buyers. With longtime EarthCraft Technical Advisor Carl Seville of SK Collaborative, Elemental Green Homes completed a total renovation of a Kirkwood home, re-working both the exterior and interior. During exterior construction, Joe discovered a need for asbestos abatement work and replaced the exterior sheathing of the home with Huber’s ZIP System® technology, an EarthCraft Sponsor. The home features a permeable paved driveway and exterior rain barrels for rainwater collection.
The interior of the home features a brand new electrical system, WaterSense plumbing fixtures throughout, ENERGY STAR rated windows and high efficiency HVAC equipment. The basement is served by a Mitsubishi mini-split split-system unit and a high efficiency heat pump was moved into the attic to heat and cool the main floor. Spray foam insulation in the exterior walls and along the roofline improved and expanded the building envelope.
From a design perspective, the renovation focused on efficiency rather than expansion. Following the design principles of Sarah Susanka’s ‘not so big house’ models, Elemental Green improved the home’s function without changing its size. This adaptive reuse allows the house to boast three bedrooms and three full bathrooms with a functional basement in less than 1,900 square feet. The renovation created a master bedroom on the main floor and a large, conditioned attic space within the newly expanded and improved building envelope.
The Georgia Power Beacon energy modeling program predicted 57 percent energy savings in the renovated home compared to its original state, which should equate to $2,000 in annual utility savings. On top of the efficiency the home is achieving based on its fixtures and building systems, Joe points out that the goal of the project is to “give the home a second life” and to renovate so that the house is “as though it were a new house without the carbon footprint.” Renovation projects save immense energy and resource costs by preserving the embodied energy of existing buildings.
Southface applauds Elemental Green Homes and SK Collaborative’s Kirkwood project, and is proud that Joe’s business model is focused on an emerging market he learned about through Southface years ago.
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