Launch Slideshow

The KellyGreen Home's Progress

The Homeowners check in often and are documenting the building of their new, green house.

The KellyGreen Home's Progress

The Homeowners check in often and are documenting the building of their new, green house.

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    Courtesy Trish Kelly

    The Homeowners' existing house was leaky and lacked open spaces.

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    Courtesy Trish Kelly

    A blizzard caused about $10,000 worth of damage to the existing home and forced the family to reconsider building on their site.

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    Courtesy Trish Kelly

    Flooring was salvaged before the house was demolished.

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    Courtesy Trish Kelly

    Spraying water during demolition reduces dust pollution.

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    Courtesy Trish Kelly

    The family rents a house nearby, so they can watch the progress of their new home being built.

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    Courtesy Trish Kelly

    Framing and walls going up in late October.

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    Courtesy Trish Kelly

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    Courtesy Trish Kelly

    The roof goes on just before Halloween.

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    Courtesy Trish Kelly

    The KellyGreen house is actually green!

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    Courtesy Trish Kelly

    High R-value windows allow for abundant glazing in the design.

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    Courtesy Trish Kelly

    A visit on Christmas Eve.

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    Courtesy Trish Kelly

    Drywall being delivered.

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    Courtesy Trish Kelly

    Once the LEED inspection and other testing is complete, interior walls are finished out in January.

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    Courtesy Trish Kelly

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    Courtesy Trish Kelly

    FSC-certified cabinets being installed.

Some green attributes the Kellenbergs knew they wanted from the beginning and others they discovered along the way “We knew we wanted to recycle as much of our old house as we could, so reclaimed flooring was a no-brainer,” John says.

However, their hopes for a desired geothermal HVAC system fell through during drilling due to excessive groundwater and poor soil, but they are having the house pre-wired to add solar panels when budget allows. “We told Peter from the beginning that we weren’t going to buy LEED points,” adds Trish, “but if something makes sense we’ll consider it.”

Staying true to their word, the couple has done a lot of research based on those suggestions, so spray foam insulation, indoor air quality, and cradle-to-cradle materials ultimately made sense to them. At the same time, there are certain amenities the family wants that don’t necessarily fit LEED paradigms. A sizeable front porch, a grass lawn for playing ball, and abundant natural light were worked into the plan and offset with other efficiencies like ceiling fans, drought-tolerant plants, and insulated glass in all of the windows.

The floorplan is narrower than the existing house so the side yards have been reclaimed for a vegetable garden. A big rec room, which the family enjoyed in their previous home, was pushed underground along with a guest bedroom and small garage,  a hot commodity in the dense Washington, D.C. suburb.

The bonus spaces may seem out of line with sustainable thinking, but matching the size and value of the upscale suburb helps prevent a tear-down in 30 years. Some added space can even be argued to enhance the home’s green quotient: An upstairs home office allows for telecommuting.

The homeowners and LEED guidelines are completely in sync on building a house with flexibility and long-term use in mind. “We’re not thinking about building a dream house,” John says, “but a practical house that we’ll be in for a long time.”

He goes on to credit LEED for making it easier for homeowners and builders to make sustainable choices. “If LEED didn’t exist, we wouldn’t have the house we’re getting. And it’s great that people are thinking about how we use resources and trying to keep bricks and wood from old houses form going into landfills.”

-Shelley D. Hutchins is the Web Producer for EcoHome.