Tear Downs and Rebuilds becoming popular in this affluent Cincinnati neighborhood
Legendary Custom Homes’ first "Tear Down To Custom Home" project inside the City of Cincinnati was also their first LEED for Homes project. The 3530 Michigan Ave. home is hard to spot as new construction because it was designed that way. The outside might blend in, but the inside is open and integrated with the rear outdoor patio entertaining area. This new construction home is attempting Gold Level LEED certification, which will achieve a tax abatement of $562,000 for 15 years on the structure (an additional five years is added to the 10 year tax abatement for building in Cincinnati). 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.
The LEED for Homes Rating System provides a basis for quantifying the benefits of green homes, thereby facilitating the widespread construction of more sustainable homes. One of the first steps in planning a LEED home is to adjust the certification thresholds based on the material and energy impacts. All else being equal, a large home consumes more materials and energy than a small home over its life cycle. LEED compensates for these impacts by adjusting the thresholds for each award level. Thresholds for smaller-than-average homes are lowered, and thresholds for larger-than-average homes are raised. 3530 Michigan Ave. is a 4,388 sq. ft. floor area home with five bedrooms. Its threshold for LEED Gold is 86 points. Its adjustment is about 11% higher than an average home.
To maximize the opportunities for integrated, cost-effective adoption of green design and construction practices the builder/developer Legendary Custom Homes, Matt Stanley assembled an integrated project team with the participation of Green Building Consultants (the LEED for Homes Certification Provider) and all team members involved in various project phases. They held monthly meetings to review project status, introduce new team members to the project goals, discuss problems encountered, formulate solutions, review responsibilities and identify next steps. One of the major decisions regarding the home was to have a detached garage, which guarantees no indoor air pollution from CO or exhaust.
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.
The LEED 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 clothes dyers directly to outdoors. A third-party verified these durability conditions.
The home also achieved regional design recognition for the location being accessible to a bike network and exemplary public transit access.
Site selection is a very important aspect of sustainable homes. This home isn’t in a floodplain or built within 100’ of water or wetlands. The infill site with existing infrastructure didn’t replace prime farmland or parkland and build on habitat or threatened or endangered species.
The Location and Linkages category credits include benefits for locating the home in a walkable neighborhood demonstrated by having at least seven basic community resources within ½ mile. This home achieved exemplary performance for having 28 basic community resources within 1.2 mile, such as arts and entertainment center, bank, convenient store, daycare, fire station, cleaner, library, pharmacy, place of worship and schools. The highly desired urban location encourages walking, physical activity, and time spent outdoors.
The Sustainable Sites category of credits includes prerequisites to prevent construction runoff from damaging sewers and preserve topsoil. The infill site minimized disturbed area of the site. Landscaping included non-conventional turf by using Turpin Farms 1785 mix and 97% drought tolerant plants. Since the provision and distribution of potable water is costly and energy intensive, particularly during dry periods, a more sensible strategy is to design landscaping that requires less potable water.
The home integrated nontoxic pest control methods by sealing external cracks, joints, etc. with caulking and installed pest –proof screens. There are no wood-to-concrete connections. Matt treated all cellulosic (wood type) material with borate product to 3' above foundation as an additional pest control measure.
Water efficiency measures include lavatory faucets 1.2 gpm (gallons per minute) for two points, toilets are dual flush and have an averaged flow rate of 1.04 gpf (gallons per flush) for two points, and all shower-heads and hand-faucets are 2.0 gpm, for one point. The home installed a rain barrel to capture water for landscape use.
Energy and atmosphere benefits featured a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) analysis verification of the achievement of a 54 rating. That means that the home is 46% better than an average home in Cincinnati. No ozone damaging HCFC refrigerants are used in the air conditioning system. Hot water lines were insulated to a minimum of R4.
The choice of building materials is important for sustainable homebuilding because of the extraction, processing, and transportation they require. Activities to produce building materials may pollute the air and water, destroy natural habitats, and deplete natural resources. Construction and demolition waste constitutes about 40% of the total solid waste stream in the United States. Points for the Materials and Resources category included Jeld-Wen Hollow Core doors, one half point for recycled content, one half point for the hardwood flooring being produced locally, from Somerset Flooring, one half point for locally produced shingles: Cambridge Collection from IKO, and used Knauf EcoBatts and Knauf JetStream Ultra blown-in fiberglass for their insulation. The roof trusses saved material by being placed on 24” centers. 88% of on-site waste diverted from landfills. 3530 Michigan Ave. diverted a minimum of 62.5% of the construction waste from a landfill.
Indoor environmental quality included no unvented combustion appliances; 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-earned full credit for using best air filters (MERV13) and performed a preoccupancy flush to rid the home of contaminants that built up during the construction process. Contaminant control includes design for shoe removal and storage space near the primary entryway.
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.
Learn more about Legendary Custom Homes by visiting their website, www.legendarycustomhomes.com or calling 513-294-8866. You can also contact Matt Stanley at matt@legendarycustomhomes, c513-226-3938. With this project just about completed, they are now looking for another tear down, rebuild, gut rehab or gut remodel green building opportunity in Madeira, Hyde Park, Montgomery, Mt. Lookout or Marimount.
By Chuck Lohre, LEED AP ID+C
Green Cincinnati Education Advocacy