New Home Development on Ohio River Showcases How LEED Platinum and the 500-Year Floodplain Can Work Together to Achieve Net-Zero Energy Use.

Sep 8, 2018 3:29:19 PM / by Chuck Lohre

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Craig Weis never thought he would be developing and building inside the City of Cincinnati. He got started building home in Columbia Tusculum and OTR before getting into a new LEED subdivision in Sayler Park.

And now he has built two LEED Platinum homes on the banks of the Ohio River and has lots for six more. Three along St. Peters Street and three along River Road.

One of his new owners, Debbie and Ken Welsh at 249 St. Peter St., looked for more than one year for the perfect next home to renovate and flip. Then they met Craig and saw the great location and river views his lots offered and they were hooked. The Welshs had lived in the area for almost 15 years and lived all over the tri-state. Their 3500-sq.-ft. home has geothermal wells that are 200-ft. deep.

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When Debbie and Ken Welsh (above) met Craig Weis and saw the great location and river views his lots offered, they were hooked.

Linda and Larry Zeff own the lot next to the Welsh’s and they chose to go Net-Zero Energy use with solar panels on the roof. Such sustainability will also allow them to achieve LEED Platinum, which gives them an unlimited tax abatement cap on the structure. She grew up in Cincinnati, the Blue Ash area but lived in Florida for two years. The Zeffs need to be by the water and love the beautiful views and new friends they are meeting in the neighborhood. Linda read about the 15-year tax abatement you get from the City of Cincinnati and had been looking all over until she saw one of Craig’s signs on St. Peter St.

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Another excellent incentive for the Zeffs was the Federal 30% tax abatement on their geothermal heating and solar panels. If you are considering either, 2019 will be the last year for the deduction off of your IRS taxes. Linda and Larry’s home will be included on the U.S. Green Building Council Ohio Chapter’s Green Home tour series next year on January 19, 2019, from 10 am until Noon. Go to http://green-cincinnati.com/southwest-ohio-usgbc-chapter-green-residential-committee-and-greater-cincinnati-green-home-tours/ for more information and to register.

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You might think living by the river would put your home in danger in case of floods, but all those concerns have been planned for and built into the houses. All of the mechanicals are above the 500-year floodplain. Any materials that might come in contact with the flood waters are waterproof and designed for such exposure. After the flood waters go down, you just hose it off. Enzweiler & Associates did most of the design for the contemporary three-story homes, which includes the ground level two car garage.

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Cincinnati history of tax abatements

Since 2002, the city of Cincinnati has granted a 10-year tax abatement on structures. In 2007, the city added an additional five years to the tax abatement for those receiving LEED Certification. In 2011, the tax abatement for LEED became a bit more layered and difficult. Now, owners must achieve LEED Silver to receive a tax break on the first $285,000 of the structure’s value. LEED Gold has a limit of $565,000, and it’s unlimited if you achieve LEED Platinum. Because of the tax abatement, nearly every new home in Cincinnati is LEED Certified and builders have become quite familiar with how to do it cost-effectively.

Certification level decision story

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LEED for Homes

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 house over its lifecycle. 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. A home’s threshold for LEED Gold may be 72 points. A 4,500-sq.-ft. home with five bedrooms would be about 85 points.

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. Contrary to those builders who tell homeowners that homes need 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 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.

Prerequisites include building above the 100-year floodplain, not habitat for endangered species, built no closer than 100 feet 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 stormwater sewers or erode hillsides.

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Innovation and Design Process

The Innovation and Design Process section of LEED includes Integrated Project Planning, which maximizes opportunities for integrated, cost-effective adoption of green design and construction strategies. A Preliminary Rating is arrived at as early a practical, they conducted a preliminary LEED for Homes meeting, with the participation of the key members of the project team and Green Building Consultants (the LEED for Homes Certification Provider) to target the level of LEED, select credits and assign the parties accountable. Typically this includes holding 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. The Integrated Project Team is formed to maximize the opportunities for integrated, cost-effective adoption of green design and construction practices.

A big help with this is that at least one principal member is a Professional Credentialed with respect to LEED for Homes.

Durability Management Process

The Innovation and Design Process section also includes the Durability Management Process, which promotes durability of the high-performance building enclosure, its components and systems through appropriate design, materials selection, and construction practices. Prior to construction, the project team will identify risks, responses regarding pests, storm damage and moisture control measures.

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 feet of the entryway, drain and drain pans for tank water heaters and clothes washers in or over living areas, and exhausting conventional clothes dyers directly to outdoors.

Durability Management requires that the builder have a quality management process in place to ensure installation. A third-party verified these durability conditions.

Innovation or regional design

Incorporating additional green design and construction features with measurable environmental benefits.

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Location and Linkages

Location and Linkages include site selection, which is a very important aspect of sustainable homes. This home isn’t in a floodplain or built within 100 feet 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. Excavated topsoil was reused; runoff was controlled, so it didn’t contaminate stormwater sewers or erode hillsides.

Preferred location guidelines encourage the building of LEED homes near or within existing communities. This project was an infill site, which means at least 75 percent of the perimeter immediately borders previously developed land. It was built on a previously developed lot and uses Existing Infrastructure because it is within a half mile of existing water and sewer lines.

Community Resources / Transit

Community Resources / Transit require it to locate close to basic resources such as arts and entertainment center, bank, convenient store, daycare, fire station, cleaner, library, pharmacy, places of worship and schools. These homes achieved Basic community resources / transit because it is within one-quarter mile of four, one-half mile of seven and 30 transit rides per weekday.

Access to open space

The highly desired urban location encourages walking, physical activity, and time spent outdoors; it is located within one-half mile of a three-quarter acre of a public open space.

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Sustainable Sites

Although the focus of green building is typically on the built structures located on a site, the design of the site and its natural elements can have a significant environmental impact. Site clearing and earth moving can contribute to considerable runoff, leading to soil erosion and alteration of natural drainage patterns both on and off-site. The home utilized Erosion Controls During Construction.

The Minimizing Disturbed Area of Site credit is automatically granted to high-density construction, in recognition of the fact that compact development enables communities to set aside land for conservation. They placed the home to minimize drainable pattern changes, scheduled construction in phases to minimize disturbance and clearly marked areas that are not to be disturbed. Maintaining vegetation in those areas.

Landscaping

The Sustainable Sites category of credits includes no invasive plants, basic landscape design, limiting & non-conventional turf, and drought tolerant plants such as Russian sage, lavender, black-eyed susan, hellebore, hosta and arborvitae. 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.

Surface Water Management

The permeable lot homes have permanent erosion controls on site and manage run-off from the roof.

The Sustainable Sites category of credits includes prerequisites to prevent construction runoff from damaging sewers and preserve topsoil. An infill site minimized disturbed area of the site.

The Sustainable Sites category of credits includes prerequisites to prevent construction runoff from damaging sewers and preserve topsoil. This is accomplished by managing some of the runoff from the roof with a rain barrel and including a permeable garden on site.

Nontoxic Pest Control

The home’s integrated nontoxic pest control methods include sealing external cracks and joints with caulking and installing pest-proof screens. There are no wood-to-concrete connections. Typically all cellulosic (wood type) material is treated with borate product to three feet above foundation as an additional pest control measure.

Compact Development

LEED encourages use of compact development patterns on buildable land to conserve land and promote community livability, transportation efficiency and walkability. These residences are located in either Moderate Density with an average density of seven or more dwelling units per acre or High Density with an average housing density of 10 or more dwellings per acre of buildable land. A single home on 1/10-acre buildable lot qualifies.

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Water Efficiency

Water Efficiency is a very important category of LEED. It includes water reuse, which is demonstrated by a rainwater harvesting system, which includes a rain barrel to capture water for landscape use. 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.

High-efficiency fixtures and fittings were specified for one home with an average flow rate is 2 gallons per minute, and 1.30 gallons per flush. Very high efficiency fixtures and fittings were selected for the second home with an average flow rate is 1.75 gallons per minute, and 1.10 gallons per flush.

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Energy & Atmosphere

Regarding Energy & Atmosphere, data from the homebuilding industry indicate that roughly 1.5 million new homes are built each year and that the average size of new homes has doubled in the past 50 years. As a result, total U.S. fossil fuel use in homes has been steadily increasing. The average American consumes five times more energy than the average global citizen, ten times more than the average Chinese person, and nearly 20 times more than the average Indian.

Optimizing energy performance measures improve the overall energy performance of a home by meeting or exceeding the performance of an Energy Star labeled home. A Home Energy Rating System (HERS) analysis verification of the energy efficiency of the home will be performed. They are required to exceed the Energy Star standard by reference to the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) analysis verification of the energy efficiency of the home. A rating of 35 will mean that a home is 65% more efficient than a typical home in Cincinnati.

Water heating

The homes reduce energy consumption associated with the domestic hot water systems, including improving the efficiency of both the hot water system design and the layout of the fixtures in the home. Typically the total length of the circulation loop is less than 40 feet in one-story homes; add 2x ceiling height for two-story homes and 4x ceiling height for up to four-story homes. Pipe insulation is at least an R4 on the hot side.

Residential refrigerant management

No ozone damaging HCFC refrigerants are used in the air conditioning system.

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Materials and Resources

The choice of building materials in 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 wastes constitute about 40% of the total solid waste stream in the United States.

Material-efficient framing

The choice of building Materials and Resources 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 wastes constitute about 40 percent of the total solid waste stream in the United States.

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.

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Environmentally preferable products

Environmentally preferable products increase demand for environmentally preferable products and products or building components that are extracted, processed, and manufactured within the region. The country of origin was requested for each wood product.

Waste management

Waste management practices require projects to reduce waste generation to a level below the industry norm. Construction waste management planning investigated and documented local options for diversion and measured it, which resulted in diverting at least 25 percent or more from landfills.

Indoor Environmental Quality

Americans spend an average 90% of their time indoors, where levels o pollutants may run two to five times – and occasionally more than 100 times – higher than outdoors, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Many of the pollutants found indoors can cause health reactions in the estimated 17 million Americans who suffer from asthma and 40 million who have allergies, contributing to millions of days absent from school and work.

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Combustion venting

Indoor Environmental Quality requires combustion venting which limits the leakage of combustion gases into the occupied space of the home. 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 or catalytic converters are specified.

Moisture control

Controlling indoor moisture levels to provide comfort, reduce risk of mold and increase the durability of the home is part of the moisture load control. They installed dehumidification equipment capable of maintaining humidity at or below 60 percent. They meet ASHRAE Standards and only exhaust air to the outdoors, not the attic or interstitial spaces.

Outdoor Air Ventilation

Outdoor Air Ventilation measures reduce occupant exposure to indoor pollutants by ventilating with outdoor air. Prerequisites included bathroom and kitchen exhausts meeting ASHRAE Standard 62.2 airflow requirements, air is exhausted to outdoors by an Energy Star labeled bathroom exhaust. Third-party performance testing was performed to verify proper installation.

Local exhaust

LEED Homes reduce moisture and exposure to indoor pollutants in kitchens and bathrooms by meeting ASHRAE Standards and only exhaust air to the outdoors, not the attic or interstitial spaces. Enhanced local exhaust uses occupancy sensors, automatic humidistat controller, and automatic timer or continuous fan. It included third-party performance testing.

Distribution of space heating and cooling

Distribution of space heating and cooling provided appropriate distribution of HVAC in the home to improve thermal comfort and energy performance. Room-by-room load calculations ensured ducts are designed accordingly. A typical home which has improved the distribution of space heating and cooling includes a return air opening of 1 square inch per cfm of supply and continuous supply airflow rates in each room tested and confirmed.

Air filtering

Very high performance, MERV 13, filters were installed.

Contaminant control

Indoor contaminants were controlled during construction, and the design allows for contaminant control, which includes space for shoe removal and storage near the primary entryway. A preoccupancy flush was performed to rid the home of contaminants that built up during the construction process.

Radon protection

Radon testing was done, and controls put into place if needed.

Garage pollutant protection

The homes have no HVAC in the garage to minimize pollutants from the garage, no garage or a detached garage. Attached garage penetrations and floor and ceiling joists connections are sealed to prevent pollutants from getting into the home. The attached garage includes an exhaust fan.

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Awareness and Education

Some homebuyers may know very little about green home construction. They may be unaware of the green features in the home, or they may be unfamiliar with how to use and maintain them. Without adequate training, the full benefits of the LEED measures likely will not be achieved.

Education of the homeowner or tenant

Some homebuyers may know very little about green home construction. They may be unaware of the green features in the home, or they may be unfamiliar with how to use and maintain them. Without adequate training, the full benefits of the LEED measures likely will not be achieved.

These homeowners will receive an operator and training manual as well as a one-hour walkthrough. They’ll also receive the LEED checklists and forms, manufacturer’s manuals and cleaning and maintenance guidance. Finally, they will receive two hours of enhanced training.

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.

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If you are interested in this LEED Development please contact Craig Weis. He has three lots available on St. Peters St. and three on Riverside Drive.

Craig Weis
CW Custom Homes LLC
3612 Chadwell Springs Cleves, OH 45002
(513) 467-1124
craigweis7@fuse.net
www.cwcustomhomes.net

About the builder from their site:

Craig Weis is a 2nd generation builder that established CW Custom Homes in 1996. Since then this award-winning company has built a reputation with customers, subcontractors, and suppliers that distinguishes itself in the Greater Cincinnati Tri-State region. He covers all areas of the Tri-state extending as far as Tennessee. Building relationships with open lines of communication is one of his keys to building a dream home. His company takes pride in every home they build and is involved in every facet of construction, from the initial designs to the finishing touches. Homeowners can and will have a great building experience when building with CW Custom Homes.

If you would like to tour some LEED homes in Cincinnati

We suggest you join the local USGBC Chapter and attend their home tours, learn more about What a LEED Home looks like?


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Topics: Green Marketing, LEED, Green Building Marketing, Green Building, Business to Consumer Advertising, Featured, Cincinnati LEED home, What Does a LEED Home Look Like

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Written by Chuck Lohre

Owner of Lohre & Associates Marketing Communications. The company celebrated their 80th Anniversary in 2015, his 38th.