Beyond the geothermal system and super-insulated shell, the home includes CFL light fixtures, GE Energy Star–labeled appliances, and a Rinnai tankless water heater. The homeowner also added an electric consumption meter available through Georgia Power. Supplementing the geothermal heating is a high-efficiency Morso wood stove; a return vent above the stove helps preheat air in the air handler.
The house also features a Panasonic WhisperComfort spot-recovery ventilator and WhisperGreen exhaust fans in the bathrooms, as well as zero-VOC paint and formaldehyde-free Merillat kitchen cabinets. Bamboo flooring, Price Pfister low-flow faucets, and Sterling dual-flush toilets are a few of the resource-conserving elements in the second-floor addition. The existing hardwood flooring on the ground level was stained to match the new FSC-certified hardwoods.
On the exterior, three cisterns incorporated into vertical columns around the perimeter collect up to 600 gallons of rainwater for irrigation and car washing. The columns integrate seamlessly into Rawlings’ Prairie-style design, an aesthetic chosen to help the larger home blend in with the older Arts and Crafts residences on the steet, one of the primary architectural goals for the team.
In addition to containing the geothermal installation, contractors carefully maintained piles of debris that were waiting for the grinding company, and the SIPs were stored unobtrusively on the street like parked cars.
“I had a lot of neighbors come by and ask what the SIPs were; there were so many people interested in what was going on,” recalls Manka.
Renewal responded to the community’s enthusiasm and curiosity by hosting tours and other educational opportunities during and after construction. The homeowner also created a blog to showcase the green features.
“We held a few open houses on this project and were just amazed at how many people were really interested in not just the pretty stuff,” says project designer Anna Warmoth. “They were really interested in what goes on behind the scenes, what goes on behind the drywall, and what makes this house green.”
Katy Tomasulo is deputy editor for EcoHome.
Lisa Manka &
PROJECT MANAGER & DESIGNER
Renewal Design-Build has been creating a name for itself in Decatur, Ga., as a go-to company for green remodeling. And the employees are not only whole-heartedly committed to the mission, but also are reaping the benefits.
“I think we’ve been extremely fortunate; we’ve been hiring throughout the recession,” says designer Anna Warmoth, whose desire to spread the green-building message has grown as she has become a homeowner herself. Time and time again, she says, clients come to Renewal because it’s known as the green remodeler in the area.
Project manager Lisa Manka’s expertise in green building began in 2000 when she became trained in EarthCraft building practices and served as a House Leader with Habitat for Humanity, which was already building to Energy Star standards. “It’s not a hard thing to do and it makes good sense,” she says.
Working with Habitat also showed Manka how much education can transform behavior. For example, as volunteer laborers learned proper insulation techniques, many would remark how easy it would be to make similar upgrades at home.
Such community knowledge is paying off for Renewal, as Georgia homeowners embrace the idea of dwellings that save cash. “We had an edge in that as national programs became more prevalent, we were already doing green construction,” says Manka. “The sooner you embrace it as a company, the bigger advantage you’ll have.” —K.T.