Mass-media showcases of green building would lead some to believe that sustainability is achieved only in ultra-modern, ultra-high-end, glass-and-steel homes and high rises. But as certification programs continue to proliferate, more and more communities are popping up in traditional styles and sizes that prove that going green doesn’t have to mean stepping outside buyers’ comfort zones. That’s the case in Tallahassee, Fla., where K2 Urbancorp’s Evening Rose traditional neighborhood development (TND) is springing up with single-family homes fronted by porches and sidewalks that lead to a feature-packed town center.
The 36-acre infill development includes 130 homes, among them 99 four-bedroom, 2.5-bath single-family units of roughly 2,100 square feet. Many of the homes are rear alley–loaded, giving the front porch more prominence, notes K2Urbancorp CEO David Wamsley.
The town center, with more than 120,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, commercial, and live/work space, is located a quarter mile or less from any of the houses. Bike paths and walking trails will dot the community, along with numerous green spaces, including a Zen garden, an organic herb garden, and several parks.
“As a TND, everything is done to address the pedestrian scale,” Wamsley says. “We’ll have walking paths of mulch, regular concrete sidewalks, and areas in the retail where we use pavers for the sidewalks.”
In addition, “We have a number of stormwater ponds, and we’re first in town to do mini-stormwater bio-retention islands in some of our town center landscape islands,” Wamsley explains.
K2Urbancorp achieved LEED-Silver certification on the fourth home built in the community. Moving forward, each house will be built to a minimum of LEED certification with the option for homeowners to upgrade to LEED Silver, Gold, or Platinum. The homes will start at $315,000, and the upgrades, which will be done on a house-to-house basis, will cost an extra $3,000 for Silver status, $6,000 more for Gold certification, and an additional $10,000 for the Platinum level.
A tight envelope was a top priority for all of the homes, Wamsley says, and each meets Energy Star requirements. Optima blown-in fiberglass insulation eliminates gaps and air infiltration. Andersen’s Silver Line low-E windows offer a U-factor of 0.35 and a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.31.
Trane’s Energy Star–rated XR13 14-SEER, 8.5-HSPF heat pumps will reduce the homeowners’ monthly utility bills by an average of about 30%, Wamsley says. Installers designed the heating system using the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Manuals J and D in a room-by-room analysis to ensure proper distribution.
To maintain a high level of air quality, the homes feature whole-house ventilation that complies with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 62.2, which focuses on whole-house ventilation, local exhaust, and source control. Air-quality elements include MERV-10 filters, 100-cfm kitchen fans that vent directly to the outside, Energy Star–rated bath fans with timers, and a detached garage. Once finished, the homes are flushed with fresh air continuously for one week before occupancy.
Other green features include Moen low-flow showerheads; dual-flush toilets; 1.5-gpm Moen faucets; a Rinnai tankless water heater; an Energy Star–rated refrigerator, dishwasher, and washing machine; and GE compact fluorescent light bulbs.
Photovoltaics are missing from base-model homes in Evening Rose but are available as an upgrade. “Solar is wonderful,” Wamsley states. “The issue is that in a soft market, when you are trying to be very cost conscious, it is still the most expensive technology that you can use in terms of making your home as green as possible.”
Internally, transitioning to building to LEED standards was relatively smooth, though it wasn’t without its challenges. Wamsley says the learning curve for all involved in the project was the biggest hurdle they faced.
“It takes the entire organization to commit from the top down,” he says. “It takes a commitment to challenging every single aspect of the house, from early design to HVAC to insulation to every finish and detail.”
Robb Crocker is Senior Editor, Online for EcoHome.
David B. Wamsley
When David Wamsley first began to dabble in green home building two years ago, he did not intend to eventually build LEED-certified homes; he really just wanted to build energy-efficient homes. But after meeting with Steven Winter of Norwalk, Conn.–based Steven Winter and Associates, a consulting firm specializing in high-performance building and a LEED for Homes provider, to learn the “broad strokes” of building an energy-efficient home, Wamsley’s eyes were opened to the importance of LEED. “The greatest lesson we learned is that the USGBC and the approach it takes is the gold standard for green building,” Wamsley says. “It’s difficult and it’s challenging. But what you end up with is a home that is superior in energy efficiency, air quality, durability, and integrity.
“We looked at all of the other rating systems, and there are some good rating systems, but none as rigorous as the USGBC’s,” he says.
Starting with a TND versus a single home may seem overwhelming, but the location and style helped in point-gathering. “It’s ... a lot simpler to do a new home LEED certified in an in-town development that’s very dense, with access to public transit, a variety of businesses, etc., than in a typical suburban subdivision.”
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Landscaping. Turf is drought-tolerant and is limited to 40% of the total landscaped area, a detail that will decrease chemicals and watering. All of the plants are non-invasive and drought-tolerant. During construction, disturbed soil was stabilized, stockpiled, and protected from erosion.
Tankless HOt Water Heater. Rinnai’s externally installed R85e tankless water heater delivers endless hot water to multiple points of use simultaneously. The unit offers up to 85% efficiency and provides up to 8.5 gpm. 800.621.9419. www.rinnai.us.
Windows. Andersen Silver Line low-E windows offer a U-factor of 0.35 and a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.31. 800.234.4228. www.silverlinewindow.com.
Kitchen. The homes’ GE Cafe Energy Star–rated refrigerators and dishwashers consume 578 kWh and 322 kWh annually, respectively. The 25.4-cubic-foot side-by-side refrigerator features the ClimateKeeper temperature management system. The dishwasher has room for 16 place settings. 800.626.2000. www.ge.com.