LEED Development a new experience at 3177 Golden Ave., Mt. Lookout neighborhood, Cincinnati
Fisher Builders LLC has improved & developed the lot at 3177 Golden Avenue. This new construction home is attempting Gold Level LEED certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building practices for energy efficiency, sustainability, and occupant health.
This home has incorporated several LEED building practices including: panelized framing, open cell and closed cell foam insulation, Water Sense faucets, Energy Star appliances, insulated hot water lines, and LEED specified bathroom exhaust fans. This home will also meet the requirements for preoccupancy flush for interior air quality.
To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. This specific project is on-track for “Gold” level certification. This home is being built on a vacant lot using environmentally friendly practices laid out by LEED building consultant Green Building Consulting. Local architect Denis L. Back in collaboration with Fisher Builders LLC designed this home. This new construction project was designed to fit in with the predominant style of the neighborhood, which includes both modern and traditional designs. The interior has a modern open floor plan, featuring high ceilings, hardwood floors and a master suite with a large walk-in closet.
“Doing LEED makes a lot of sense. Really no negative." Denis comments. "Better windows and insulation are already required between code and the cost of energy, you would do it anyway.” The typical $450,000 home in the City of Cincinnati receives and additional five-year tax abatement on the structure. If taxes are $8,000 per year, the $40,000 in savings over five years easily pays for the USGBC fees, material and system upgrades to meet LEED requirements, which could add as little as $6,000 to the project.
In the end the homeowner will have a well built and third-party certified home. Passing the blower door test alone is significant. Blower door tests are used to prove the air sealing quality of the construction. During the test the home is depressurized to -50 Pascal and measurements are recorded throughout the home to verify that outside air isn’t leaking into the home at a rate higher than required. It proves the home won’t be drafty and uncomfortable. The tighter envelope many times requires an air-to-air heat and moisture exchanger to supply fresh air and replenish moisture to the home. Contrary to some builders telling owners that the home needs to breathe for fresh air, it is much better to control the ventilation rather than allowing shoddy construction of leaky vapor barriers to supply fresh air to the home.
The Golden Avenue home built by Fisher Builders LLC is their first foray into green building using LEED principles. Fisher Builders LLC has been in business for nearly 20 years, historically they have focused on rehabbing old homes and building new condominiums in Eden Park and East Walnut Hills. It recently completed The Volterra Condominium Projecta, 12-unit building.
The LEED Certification system is broadly categorized into five equally important parts that demonstrate measurable environmental benefits: Site, Water, Energy, Materials, and Indoor Environment Quality. The following is a review of the features of this home according to the LEED for Homes system, which also includes the design process.
Innovation and design process includes a durability management section that promotes durability and high performance of the building enclosure, its components and systems through appropriate design, materials selection and construction. The home’s plans include the following features: No paper backed backer board or carpet in tub, shower and spa areas, no carpet within three ft. of the entryway, drain and drain pans for tank water heaters and clothes washers in or over living areas, exhaust conventional clothe dyers directly to outdoors.
Sustainable site category credits include locating the home in a walkable neighborhood demonstrated by having seven basic community resources within ½ mile. Also included is nontoxic pest control and water efficiency including draught-tolerant turf that isn’t planted in shady areas or on slopes more than 25% grade. Mulch was added as needed and compacted soil was tiled to a depth of 6 inches. The .1-acre lot encourages higher density. Prerequisites include building above the 100-year floodplain, not habitat for endangered species, built no closer than 100 ft. to water or wetlands, land that wasn’t a public park and land that doesn’t have prime, unique or soils of state significance. Excavated topsoil was reused; runoff was controlled so it didn’t contaminate storm water sewers or erode hillsides.
Water efficiency measures included a high-efficiency irrigation system including drip irrigation for 50% of planting beds, separate zone for each type of planting, timers for each zone, and sensors that recognize it has rained and no irrigation is needed. The average flowrate of lavatory faucets is less than or equal 1.5 gpm, and toilets are dual-flush.
Energy and atmosphere benefits featured a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) analysis verification of the achievement of a 60 rating. That means that the home is 40% better than an average home in Cincinnati. No ozone damaging HCFC refrigerants are used in the air conditioning system.
Materials and resources included framing efficiencies and off-site panelized construction leading to 88% of on-site waste diverted from landfills. Off-site panelized construction is similar to a factory built home in that the quality of construction may be higher because the construction isn’t subject to the weather and the possibility of less highly trained carpenters. Environmentally preferable products included a preference for Forest Stewardship Council wood and flooring products, and low VOC gypsum board. Additionally, no tropical woods were installed, and the country of origin was requested for each wood product. 90% of the hard wood flooring was low emission and of 45% local production. Other regional materials included aggregate, cement, gypsum board and patio decking.
Indoor environmental quality included no unvented combustion appliances, carbon monoxide detectors in rooms that share a door with the garage; all fireplaces have doors, and space, water-heating equipment is designed with closed combustion. Prerequisites included bathroom and kitchen exhausts meeting ASHRAE Standard 62.2 airflow requirements, air is exhausted to outdoors and an Energy Star labeled bathroom exhaust. The home has improved the distribution of space heating and cooling including a return air opening of 1 sq. inch per cfm of supply and continuous supply air flowrates in each room tested and confirmed. Contaminant control includes design for shoe removal and storage space near the primary entryway. Garage penetrations and floor and ceiling joists connections are sealed to prevent pollutants from getting into the home.
Awareness and education requirements include this article as part of the LEED Certification. It will be published online at Green Cincinnati Education Advocacy and the local USGBC’s Chapter site once certified. LEED Signage was posted on the site. The homeowners will receive an operator and training manual as well as a one-hour walkthrough.
Visit Fisher Builder’s website for more information about this soon to be certified LEED home. You can also contact Alec Fisher at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jay Fisher at email@example.com. With this project just about completed, they are now looking for another green building opportunity.