Yesterday morning we met with Paul Ahlrich, who owns Grun Development and he took us through one of his recently-completed single family homes on W. Walton in Ukrainian Village. The homes are fine examples of high-performance architecture, are handsome and elegant, and fit in with the character of the neighborhood. These homes have been tested and shown to use 35% of the energy of a conventional structure. Both Cappy Kidd of Informed Energy Decisions and George Sullivan of Eco-Smart Builders have conducted energy efficiency tests on the buildings.
The first thing one notices upon entering the home is the open layout. Generous window sizes allow bountiful light. Paul uses Jeld-Wen Windows.
High-performance homes feel especially strong and safe when you are inside them. Noise from the street doesn’t penetrate; if you want to hear the sound of the rain on the roof you’ll have to go back to your ordinary house.
Paul rattled off the components of the house like a proud teenager listing the components of his hot-rod (okay, I’m giving away my age here). And he should be proud, because these homes will win the energy-efficiency race. At 4,200 square feet,they are large homes, but at least they aren't built out in the middle of farmland, like other "green" homes we have complained about.
The exterior walls are made of split block masonry, 1” super-tough R styrene walls with foil on each side and metal-taped seams, and then “rocked”. That’s sheet rock, for you tinhorns. Paul spoke highly of Dave at KTB Foam Insulation and this is not the first ringing endorsement I’ve heard of KTB: too bad they don’t have a website that I could link you to.
Paul insulates his trim joists with a half pound of soy insulation and uses IC rated insulated cans for his recessed lights, so they don't leak energy out through the holes. Two inches of under-slab styrene completes the envelope.
Contractors, take note: Sherwin Williams now offers a contractor grade of low/no VOC paints. Paul uses highest quality rated drywall, with an anti-fungicide and anti-mold fixative.
The kitchen cabinets are made by Homecrest in Goshen, Indiana (love those local providers!) and are FSC certified while the kitchen floors are Bona from Sweden and feature a water based finish with no off-gassing.
Paul’s next focus: Urban Privacy. Green building calls for tightly clustering buildings where the urban footprint already exists; but that doesn’t mean that people don’t want their privacy. Hence the roof deck he features in his homes and the bonus above-garage deck, which one can view through the master bedroom on the second floor. Watch this developer, because he really "gets it" and he's going to go far.