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Trip the Light Rail Fanstastic

A green builder profits from urban renewal projects near Phoenix's new public transportation system.

Trip the Light Rail Fanstastic

A green builder profits from urban renewal projects near Phoenix's new public transportation system.

  • Project: Elm Street Renovation, PhoenixSize: 1,580 square feet (including guest house)Price: $240,000Completed: November 2009Certification: ANSI National Green Building Standard-EmeraldHERS Rating: 65Builder/Architect: Green Street, Phoenix

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    Project: Elm Street Renovation, PhoenixSize: 1,580 square feet (including guest house)Price: $240,000Completed: November 2009Certification: ANSI National Green Building Standard-EmeraldHERS Rating: 65Builder/Architect: Green Street, Phoenix

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    Michael Baxter

    Project: Elm Street Renovation, Phoenix
    Size: 1,580 square feet (including guest house)
    Price: $240,000
    Completed: November 2009
    Certification: ANSI National Green Building Standard-Emerald
    HERS Rating: 65
    Builder/Architect: Green Street, Phoenix

  • The Hunter drip irrigation system is controlled via the manufacturers Solar Sync sensor, which continually gathers on-site solar and temperature data to determine daily watering requirements. A rain monitor ensures that the yard isnt watered unnecessarily. 760.591.7383. www.hunterindustries.com.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmp1368%2Etmp_tcm131-406344.jpg

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    The Hunter drip irrigation system is controlled via the manufacturers Solar Sync sensor, which continually gathers on-site solar and temperature data to determine daily watering requirements. A rain monitor ensures that the yard isnt watered unnecessarily. 760.591.7383. www.hunterindustries.com.

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    Michael Baxter

    IRRIGATION
    The Hunter drip irrigation system is controlled via the manufacturers Solar Sync sensor, which continually gathers on-site solar and temperature data to determine daily watering requirements. A rain monitor ensures that the yard isnt watered unnecessarily. 760.591.7383. www.hunterindustries.com.

  • Replacing the homes outdated appliances with Energy Starqualified models from Bosch went a long way in helping to slash energy consumption, Beere says. Selections include the Linea 500 series stainless steel counter-depth refrigerator and the Integra 500 series dishwasher, which features EcoSense technology that reduces energy usage by up to 20%, the manufacturer says. 800.944.2904. www.boschappliances.com.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmp1369%2Etmp_tcm131-406353.jpg

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    Replacing the homes outdated appliances with Energy Starqualified models from Bosch went a long way in helping to slash energy consumption, Beere says. Selections include the Linea 500 series stainless steel counter-depth refrigerator and the Integra 500 series dishwasher, which features EcoSense technology that reduces energy usage by up to 20%, the manufacturer says. 800.944.2904. www.boschappliances.com.

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    Michael Baxter

    APPLIANCES
    Replacing the homes outdated appliances with Energy Starqualified models from Bosch went a long way in helping to slash energy consumption, Beere says. Selections include the Linea 500 series stainless steel counter-depth refrigerator and the Integra 500 series dishwasher, which features EcoSense technology that reduces energy usage by up to 20%, the manufacturer says. 800.944.2904. www.boschappliances.com.

  • Green Street selected zero-VOC EcoShield interior paint by Dunn-Edwards. The Green Sealcertified formula is free of ethylene glycol, a dangerous and odorless solvent common to even some low-VOC paints, says the firm, and has practically no odor. 888.337.2468. www.dunnedwards.com. Custom-made to meet historic preservation requirements, the homes Jeld-Wen Builders Vinyl windows are Energy Starrated and achieve a U-factor of 0.32. The companys LoE3-366 glass blocks 95% of ultraviolet rays, and the new TegraTite installation kit helps provide a tighter, more energy-efficient installation. 800.535.3936. www.jeld-wen.com. EcoProcotes SoyCrete gave the concrete floors the variegated look of an acid stain. The soy-based, low-VOC formula, which is virtually odorless, bonds with the concrete without leaving behind a topical coating or film that contribute to premature wearing or peeling, according to the company. 877.366.7547. www.ecoprocote.com.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmp136A%2Etmp_tcm131-406362.jpg

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    Green Street selected zero-VOC EcoShield interior paint by Dunn-Edwards. The Green Sealcertified formula is free of ethylene glycol, a dangerous and odorless solvent common to even some low-VOC paints, says the firm, and has practically no odor. 888.337.2468. www.dunnedwards.com. Custom-made to meet historic preservation requirements, the homes Jeld-Wen Builders Vinyl windows are Energy Starrated and achieve a U-factor of 0.32. The companys LoE3-366 glass blocks 95% of ultraviolet rays, and the new TegraTite installation kit helps provide a tighter, more energy-efficient installation. 800.535.3936. www.jeld-wen.com. EcoProcotes SoyCrete gave the concrete floors the variegated look of an acid stain. The soy-based, low-VOC formula, which is virtually odorless, bonds with the concrete without leaving behind a topical coating or film that contribute to premature wearing or peeling, according to the company. 877.366.7547. www.ecoprocote.com.

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    Michael Baxter

    PAINT
    Green Street selected zero-VOC EcoShield interior paint by Dunn-Edwards. The Green Sealcertified formula is free of ethylene glycol, a dangerous and odorless solvent common to even some low-VOC paints, says the firm, and has practically no odor. 888.337.2468. www.dunnedwards.com.  

    WINDOWS
    Custom-made to meet historic preservation requirements, the homes Jeld-Wen Builders Vinyl windows are Energy Starrated and achieve a U-factor of 0.32. The companys LoE3-366 glass blocks 95% of ultraviolet rays, and the new TegraTite installation kit helps provide a tighter, more energy-efficient installation. 800.535.3936. www.jeld-wen.com.  

    FLOORING
    EcoProcotes SoyCrete gave the concrete floors the variegated look of an acid stain. The soy-based, low-VOC formula, which is virtually odorless, bonds with the concrete without leaving behind a topical coating or film that contribute to premature wearing or peeling, according to the company. 877.366.7547. www.ecoprocote.com.

  • All fixtures are WaterSense-certified, including the homes two Gerber 1.1/1.6-gpf Ultra dual-flush toilets. They feature 3.125-inch trapways and pressure-assisted flushing. 866.538.5536. www.gerberonline.com.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmp136D%2Etmp_tcm131-406373.jpg

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    All fixtures are WaterSense-certified, including the homes two Gerber 1.1/1.6-gpf Ultra dual-flush toilets. They feature 3.125-inch trapways and pressure-assisted flushing. 866.538.5536. www.gerberonline.com.

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    Michael Baxter

    TOILETS
    All fixtures are WaterSense-certified, including the homes two Gerber 1.1/1.6-gpf Ultra dual-flush toilets. They feature 3.125-inch trapways and pressure-assisted flushing. 866.538.5536. www.gerberonline.com.

  • Before it was demolished, concrete from the original driveway was cut into 2-foot-by-2-foot pavers and laid in the courtyard between the main dwelling and guest house as well as in the front walkway.

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    Before it was demolished, concrete from the original driveway was cut into 2-foot-by-2-foot pavers and laid in the courtyard between the main dwelling and guest house as well as in the front walkway.

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    Michael Baxter

    INSULATION
    The guest house was insulated with 100% water-blown Icynene LD-R-50 insulation, dervived from the oil of the castor plant. THe HFC- and PBDE-free material insulates and air seals in one step and exceeds USDA BioPreferred and ICC requirements for rapidly renewable products. 800.758.7325. www.icynene.com.

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    Michael Baxter

    PAVERS
    Before it was demolished, concrete from the original driveway was cut into 2-foot-by-2-foot pavers and laid in the courtyard between the main dwelling and guest house as well as in the front walkway.

When Phoenix’s $1.4 billion light rail opened at the end of 2008, the homes along its line instantly became more environmentally friendly because of their new car-free access to jobs, shopping, sporting events, and nightlife.

The electric-powered rail system has far exceeded expectations with 11.3 million riders in the first year, but in communities along the 20-mile route, foreclosed homes impede the urban revitalization that typically accompanies access to public transportation. In Phoenix and throughout Arizona, homes sit empty in nearly every neighborhood, signs of the region’s devastated real estate market.

But where others saw distressed dwellings, Phoenix developer Philip Beere saw opportunity not only for urban renewal, but for high-performance green renewal. By buying older homes near Metro stations below market value, Beere found he could rehabilitate them to ultra-efficient standards, sell them for less than the appraised value, and still make a profit. He flipped four of them last year and plans to rehab 10 more in the near future.

"We pick up the homes at discounted enough prices where we can still afford to make green renovations," says Beere, founder of Phoenix-based Green Street.

For a renovation to a home on Elm Street in the Pierson Place Historic District completed in November, Beere achieved the highest level of certification—Emerald—under the ANSI National Green Building Standard, the first remodel to do so and one of only 13 Emerald projects in the country.

The 70-year-old dwelling was structurally sound but leaky, outdated, and in need of repairs, says Beere, who was adamant that exterior walls be preserved in order to conserve resources, reduce construction waste, and keep costs down. “The greenest home is the existing home,” he says.

Although he didn’t change the layout, the house underwent a complete high-performance overhaul. In addition, the formerly graffiti-covered unattached garage was turned into a guest house, adding a third bedroom and increasing livable square footage of the two structures from 1,180 to 1,580.

To achieve the 50% reduction of water and energy consumption required for Emerald certification of a pre-1980 remodel, the project team focused on deep energy retrofits and extreme water efficiency, says verifier Mick Dalrymple. This included adding low-E windows, high-performance insulation, a York 15-SEER heat pump, WaterSense-certified plumbing fixtures, and Energy Star–rated appliances.

GreenFiber cellulose was blown into the main house’s attic to achieve an R-value of 19, and ductwork was tightly sealed, including several large holes in the roof where the HVAC system drew in hot air. “The remodeled home’s energy savings is significant compared to how inefficient the house was when we started,” Beere explains.