Less than a year ago, Steve Holcomb’s house was submerged under 2 feet of water, in the middle of a disaster zone, uninhabitable. Last month, the little house in Munster, Ind., was recognized as the nation’s first certified green remodel under the ANSI National Green Building Standard.
The unassuming one-story ranch sits along the Little Calumet River, which flooded last September in the wake of Hurricane Ike and other Midwest storms. Holcomb and hundreds of other residents of the Northwest Indiana town had to be evacuated, and local officials declared the county a disaster area.
Floodwaters filled Holcomb’s basement as well as 2 feet of the first floor of the 1,100-square-foot home. Mold was a serious concern, and the building’s structural integrity was uncertain.
“The river is located directly behind the home, and in the aftermath of the hurricane and four days of rain, the river breached the whole town of Munster,” says Daniel Lyng, the remodeler who upgraded the home, his first green certified project. “The homeowner had lost everything and was forced out of the house. He was going through a torturous event.”
Working within a $50,000 budget to repair substantial structural damage, Frankfort, Ill.-based Lyng Builders upgraded the 35-year-old home’s heating and cooling system, installed a high-efficiency water heater and Energy Star-rated appliances, added wall and pipe insulation, and thoroughly sealed the home against air and energy leaks. The remodeled dwelling will use nearly half of the energy than the original house. In addition, Lyng replaced the older water-guzzling fittings and fixtures with lower flow products. The home also is equipped with a programmable thermostat, a power-vented attic fan, and a programmed exhaust mechanism for efficient conditioning and ventilation.
The project’s tight budget did not deter Lyng from seeking to make it a national showpiece. “We did not start over from scratch on this house, in order to keep the costs down,” he says. “We proved that we were able to remodel it economically and make real calculated, careful energy-saving improvements.”
GOING FOR GREEN
Lyng, who sits on the green building committee of his local home builders association, says he was not aware that a green remodel certification was available until the Munster project was nearly complete. “At our HBA meeting, Don Carr [NAHB’s green building certification program manager] came and announced that they now have a certification for remodelers,” he says. “That’s when I got the idea to go for it.”
Verifying and certifying the home under the National Green Building Standard was a thorough process that took about three weeks, Lyng says. “In my eyes there is more work to be done when certifying a remodel,” he points out. “There is lots of tweaking and testing that needs to be done. I was thrilled to get it certified.”
Lyng says the certification provides a way for him to guarantee that his remodels are truly eco-friendly. “I’m thrilled to see that there’s a way to prove it--to prove that you’re a green builder, that your homes are energy efficient and sustainable,” he says. “Now it’s quantifiable, plus the certification itself is something that’s marketable.” Approved by ANSI in January, the ICC-700-2008 National Green Building Standard, which is based on the NAHB’s Model Green Home Building Guidelines, sets benchmarks and a verification protocol for single-family and multifamily homes and remodeling. Participating remodelers must address a range of factors, including energy, resource, and water efficiency, and indoor environmental quality.
Holcomb could barely keep the tears out of his eyes when Lyng let him know that his once ill-fated house would be the first certified green remodel in the country. “Lyng went out of his way to make sure everything was just right,” Holcomb says. “My house is working more efficiently.”
Location: Munster, Ind.
Remodeler: Lyng Builders, Frankfort, Ill.
Size: 1,100 square feet
Project cost: $50,000
Certification: ANSI National Green Building Standard-Bronze
Verifier: Energy Diagnostics, Valparaiso, Ind.
Jennifer Goodman is Senior Editor for EcoHome Online.