This article is part of a continuing series on sustainable remodeling projects from across the country.

A century-old Minneapolis home was remediated and restored to its original beauty, preserving its vintage Arts and Crafts charm. Located in the diverse, artsy Seward neighborhood adjacent to the Mississippi River, the home was modernized and customized to the clients’ wishes with indoor composting, rainwater harvesting, and ultra-efficient insulation and air sealing, for less than $160 per square foot.

The 1,936-square-foot home’s envelope underwent an extensive transformation that slashed its HERS score from 127 to 59 and earned it Energy Star 2.0 certification. The project team from Minneapolis-based Vujovich Design Build utilized energy-design software to model projected outcomes, test anticipated R-values, and ensure that a high-performance envelope would not create adverse durability or health issues.

Workers installed R-13 fiberglass insulation at the existing 2x4 stud wall space and 4 inches of insulated panels over exterior sheathing, bringing the walls to R-36. The roof and attic were beefed up as well, with R-50 cellulose on the attic floor and spray-foam insulation at the roofline adjacent to sloped ceilings. Vujovich production director Chris McGuire topped it off with a new 50-year Energy Star-labeled GAF Timberline asphalt roof. Energy Star-labelled U-0.31 windows, new exterior doors, 90 percent fluorescent and LED lighting, high-efficiency appliances, and a balanced ventilation system rounded out the energy conservation strategy.

To improve the previously choppy interior layout, McGuire opened and combined rooms into a light-filled, open floor plan while maintaining the structure’s original footprint. Workers carefully removed toxic materials including lead-based trim and siding and 500 square feet of asbestos flooring, while preserving and restoring interior plaster and lath walls, trim, and moldings and hardwood floors. Low- and no-VOC stains, sealers, primers and paints were used to minimize odors and off-gassing to accommodate the clients, who are chemically sensitive. 

"The general theme of the project was to maintain the home's existing layout charm," says McGuire.

Workers replaced all existing windows with Marvin double-hung units custom sized to allow reuse of the existing interior trim. They installed new James Hardie trim and siding on the home, matching the original design. An extensive composting and recycling area near the kitchen allows the owners to reduce curbside waste and eliminates the need for a garbage disposal.

Outside, where the owners like to spend their time gardening, new landscaping enhanced existing south and west shade trees, helping to circumvent the need for mechanical air conditioning. Rainbarrel water diversion is designed to collect 90% of the roof’s rainwater and provides irrigation. The remaining 10% of roof rainwater is filtered through drought-tolerant sedum planted on a flat roof over the storage area.  A new raingarden collects water from the rear yard space, further reducing run-off.

Other sustainable features include:
--High-efficiency boiler
--Hydronic heating system for the kitchen, mud room, and bathroom floors
--Whole house-ERV for optimum indoor air quality

--No-added-formaldehyde plywood cabinet interiors
--WaterSense-labeled dual-flush toilets
--New metal roof at basement stair location with a LiveRoof Hybrid green roof system
--Energy Star-rated Bosch appliances
--SkuttleTight insulated attic access panel