The founder of the U.S. Green Building Council says he is living in the greenest house in America.
David Gottfried’s renovated 1915 Craftsman bungalow earned the LEED for Homes Platinum designation after scoring more points for the green building certification than any other home in the country late last year. The house earned 106.5 points out of a possible 136; it needed 80 for a Platinum certification.
The 1,440-square-foot home, located in Oakland, Calif.’s Rockridge neighborhood, is Gottfried’s effort to prove that “green is beautiful,” he says, and to showcase energy and water efficiency and green materials in a small house in a walkable neighborhood. He even painted the home’s exterior green.
Gottfried’s first consideration when creating the ultimate green home was size. “We didn’t want to do a monster home and call it Platinum,” notes Gottfried, whose four-member family moved in last summer a few months before renovations were complete. In fact, the home is half the size of the family’s former residence. “We hoped to showcase how to green an old, historic home and still achieve LEED-Platinum,” he adds.
Second, the family chose to renovate rather than build to make use of an existing site rather than to claim open space. And third, the Gottfrieds selected a neighborhood within walking distance of shops and restaurants so the family could cut down on driving.
By The Numbers
The Gottfried home earned 106.5 of 136 possible
points to become the highest-scoring green home
renovation since LEED for Homes launched.
Here’s a breakdown of the points it claimed:
Innovation and design: 8 of 11 possible
Locations and linkages: 10 of 10 possible
Sustainable sites: 19 of 22 possible
Water efficiency: 13 of 15 possible
Energy and atmosphere: 31 of 38 possible
Materials and resources: 12.5 of 16 possible
Indoor environmental quality: 11 of 21 possible
Awareness and education: 2 of 3 possible
Gottfried even closed the downtown Oakland office of Regenerative Ventures, his green building consulting firm, and moved it to a zero-energy LifePod in his backyard. The 120-square-foot recycled steel structure features eight 170-watt solar modules on the metal roof.
During the renovation, contractors reused existing doors and hardware, and built or repaired entry stairs, framing, and a deck with reclaimed or FSC-certified wood.
Designed as a net-zero energy home, the bungalow features new Energy Star-qualified appliances; low-E, double-pane windows; cellulose wall insulation; photovoltaic panels, and a solar water heater.
Its dual-flush toilets and low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators help the family consume less water.
In addition, a Rainwater Hog modular rain catchment unit collects rainwater for use in the garden and in one of the toilets, and the home captures greywater from the two showers, a bathtub, and two sinks for watering the landscape, which features drought-resistant plants.
Gottfried, who also founded the World Green Building Council, says renovating a home was more complicated than he expected. “I knew how to green the house, and I knew it was easy to spec materials and source systems,” he says, “but I didn’t know what was involved in the installation—the iterations, the complications. Unless you’re a contractor, you don’t know.”
The dwelling is the second renovated home to earn the LEED-Platinum in California. It earned a higher rating than the other one, he says, because his home is smaller.
Gottfried says he doesn’t expect to be able to claim the country’s greenest home for long, noting that he hopes his effort will inspire others to surpass him.
And he’s hoping the publicity generated will educate homeowners about what’s possible when it comes to living green. “No matter what your budget is, you can do green,” he says. “It just depends how much or at what level.”