Andrew Michler

LEED for Homes Winners are as Affordable as They are Green

by , 01/12/11



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The now famous 100K House in Philadelphia is all about maximizing efficiency and design while squeezing the most out of a small budget. The efforts of developer  Postgreen and designer Interface Studio Architects was rewarded with the 2010 LEED Homes Project of the Year. Comming in at less than $100 per square foot in construction cost they not only achieved LEED Platinum status, but helped revitalize the Philadelphia neighborhood of East Kensington, and at the same time set the bar for amazing urban revitalization in the US. Read more on our previous coverage of the 100k House.

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Habitat for Humanity of Sacramento received recognition with the Outstanding Program Commitment Award for producing high quality LEED Gold Homes. As you know Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to providing low-income housing for families in need, and they are now one of the leading developers of green homes. The winning project was built and tested to use 60% less energy than a house of comparable size.

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Southwest builder Artistic Homes took off with the Production Builders Award for a LEED Platinum home constructed in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Not only is the house net zero energy, it is also is on the market for less than $300k, which for the Santa Fe market is a pretty good deal.

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4 Comments

  1. positivepolly January 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Sorry Lazyreader… I have been to the houses built by these developers, and as Nic states..it is TWO houses, not one. It definitely is not a McMansion in size or philosophy; actually, quite the opposite.I appreciate their desire to build sustainable homes that are energy efficient. I am amazed that in this housing market, all of their homes have sold before being finished. Next time, please do a little homework before you display comments that are unfounded and not researched.

  2. nicdarling January 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Not even entirely sure where to start in a reply to the above comments, but let’s give it a go . . .

    The building in the picture is actually two houses with the interior one set back from the street in keeping with the context of the neighborhood. While I will agree that this is not an ideal choice for an urban street and would prefer all the homes built to the sidewalk, that is not the case in East Kensington. The street line is broken by occasional setbacks and at the time it seemed important to match the neighborhood in scale and shape even while experimenting in facade design. So, in short, it is properly connected to the adjacent home.

    The location of utility meters are not the choice of the developer in Philadelphia, or if they are it requires more bribe money than we have budgeted. We tried as hard as we could to place meters elsewhere but the utilities put them where they like. Perhaps it would have been kinder to ask before assuming that was a design choice.

    The new house is probably about the same size if not a bit smaller than most of the existing homes. It does have higher ceilings and a higher parapet wall which makes it slightly higher than the average two-story.

    The whole urban argument is very confusing as we are currently in a period of regeneration in our cities. For the first time ever more people live in cities than live outside of them. Philadelphia’s population is finally growing again after the “flight” of last century. All indications show that the majority of people moving into the housing market over the next decade will want denser homes in walkable neighborhoods because those neighborhoods are more vibrant, more sustainable and more convenient.

    These homes are not charity cases. These are real urban solutions. We have built 8 so far and sold them all well before we have finished building them. Our buyers are teachers, small business owners, IT guys, students and landscapers. These are real people who can’t find a home that fits them in the sprawl of cookie cutter houses, multi-acre parking lots, divided highways and shopping centers that define most of our suburban landscape, and there are a lot more like them.

    Homes like this should be one of the new models for a changing world. Small, dense, super-efficient, urban houses need to be a significant part of our ongoing development if we hope to lessen the amount of energy and carbon we use. Granted, they won’t all look like these homes, but not everyone wants a colonial knock-off either.

    I would be happy to go on, but feel this comment has already gotten a bit lengthy. Thanks for taking the time to comment Lazyreader. I wish it hadn’t seemed so aggressively anti-us, but I appreciate the opportunity to clarify.

  3. lazyreader January 19, 2011 at 8:21 am

    They DIDN’T even bother to connect it to the older house properly!! The new house may be larger, and ultimately may pay a premium for size. But it coincides with the McMansion philosophy of those who don’t want to live in this part of the city in the first place. Urban decay is often blamed on things such as “white flight” and dis-investment in the city. Perhaps. What they fail to notice is now even other races are moving to the suburbs and buying single family residences. So maybe the decline of the city can be based on changing tastes. These homes are charity cases built out of prestige, not real homes. Markets can build real homes just as easy and more beautifully without these accredited architects and urban thinkers, even in the city, if people want to live there. There is a small market for high density urban dwellings and we can accommodate that, but most don’t want those types of housing.

  4. lazyreader January 13, 2011 at 8:04 am

    The townhouse on the left is architecturally superior to the “New” one on the right. They didn’t even connect it properly to the other one so now were stuck with a blank ugly wall cladding to the side. They even put all the phone wires and electrical boxes right in front as if it’s part of the decor. Town houses are designed to connect flawlessly even if they are repetitive in terms of style, this is done to fill the continuity of the surrounding landscape which run nearly the entire length of the street to give pedestrians something to look at constantly. If one is missing (the so-called missing teeth) then the pedestrians cease walking up & down it.
    For instance, in Baltimore, the intersection between South Eutaw street and West Baltimore street hosts a Starbucks in a recently built building. It blends almost seamlessly with the older renovated buildings to the right. The buildings on the right are clearly superior, which shows the architects have to recapture this old level of excellence.

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