Chicago FitHouse―What Makes it Green?
Chicago aims to become the greenest city in America, according to mayor Richard M. Daley, who has implemented a number of programs to help improve the city's environmental footprint. In addition to innovative green-building guidelines governing commercial buildings, the city is set to unveil a similar program for residences. The FitHouse, a four-story, 5,400-square-foot home in Lincoln Park, will be among the first homes to qualify.
"I wanted to build a house for the future," says Brad Schreiber of City View Real Estate, who built the FitHouse. He worked with green-building architectural consultant Kevin Pierce to fill the house with environmentally friendly technologies, like the ones listed here:
1. Exterior materials: "In keeping with the green-building idea of using materials that can be sourced within a 500-mile range of the home, I chose limestone quarried from Indiana and General Shale brick from Louisville, Kentucky," says Schreiber.
2. Location: The FitHouse is roughly two miles from downtown Chicago, a distance easily accessible by bike or by train (an "El" station is located nearby). Restaurants, shops, and a bakery are a short stroll up the block. There's rarely need to drive.
3. Low-emission materials: Sherwin-Williams paints and stains, Armstrong flooring material, cabinetry, and insulation are all low-VOC, meaning that they don't release significant toxins into indoor air.
4. Heating and cooling system: Trane's CleanEffects heating and cooling system filters 99 percent of allergens from the air. Thermostats are multizoned so the system can maximize efficiency as heating or cooling needs change from floor to floor.
5. Water use: Water heating is carefully regulated to help save energy. As demand fluctuates, a processor regulates the amount of water being heated by a high-efficiency, Energy Star-certified boiler. Storage tanks recirculate the hot water, allowing the boiler to turn on less often.
6. Triple-paned windows: "They're among the most energy efficient available," Schreiber says. They also seal out noise.
7. Recycled roofing: Although the roofing material looks like slate, it's actually made of recycled industrial rubber and plastic.
8. Extra insulation: Ordinarily, studs--supports that hold up interior walls--are set flush against exterior walls. Here, the studs are offset half an inch, leaving room for insulation between the studs and the exterior walls.
9. Natural light: Clerestory windows help provide natural light, which floods from the penthouse down the staircase to the floors below. The more natural daylight you have, the less electric light you need.
10. Greenroof: Rooftop landscaping provides extra insulation, absorbs rainwater, and reduces reflected sunlight.
11. Recycled decking: Trex decking used on the garage-top terrace is made of a combination of reclaimed wood and recycled plastic (mostly grocery bags).
Builder: Brad Schreiber of City View Real Estate earned his MBA from the University of Michigan and Graduate Master Builder designation through the National Association of Home Builders. He is a member of the Chicago Association of Realtors and the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago.
Architect: Patricia Craig of Craig & Associates is a member of the American Institute of Architects. She has served on the Board of Directors of The Prairie Club, which is dedicated to environmental issues, and is currently director of planning and development for the Lakeview, Illinois, Chamber of Commerce.
ASID Interior Designer: Recognized as a leader in the Chicago design community, Susan Fredman of Susan Fredman & Associates is known for her innovative design solutions. In addition to her At Home With Nature store and fabric line, she is the author of At Home With Nature: Great Interiors From the Great Outdoors.
Landscape Designer: Christy Webber of Christy Webber Landscapes specializes in projects located within the city of Chicago. Her company brings a singular set of qualifications to Chicago customers. Founded in 1988, her company now employs more than 100 people.
Cabinet designer: Terrell Goeke of Terrell Goeke, Inc., pairs design expertise with luxurious products to enhance the beauty, enjoyment, and value of a client's home. With a BA in interior design and more than two decades of experience, he specializes in kitchens and bathroom