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Green Goes Gorgeous
Barry Dixon, Inc.
Thankfully the mention of a green building no longer conjures up images of crunchy granola concrete boxes covered with photovoltaics. Think of all the stunning spaces you’ve seen recently that – oh, by the way – happen to be green: hotels, restaurants, offices, schools, houses of worship. Examples abound.
Green gorgeousness has ratcheted up another notch with the opening of CharityWorks GreenHouse, a designer show house in McLean Virginia. A developer and a contractor conceived the idea to create a space they would want to live in. They didn’t pursue any specific green technologies but used the use best and brightest technologies out there that are cost effective, made sense and are beautiful.
This carbon neutral, Craftsman-style home is, at its best, a show house for energy efficiency. The recycled content Energy Star rated metal roof reduces heat load by 22 percent. Structural insulated panel (SIPs) construction is 15 times tighter than a traditionally built home. Its narrow footprint lets in a lot of light and facilitates air flow.
The house is heated and cooled by geothermal, radiant tubing and ducts; it is 70 percent more efficient than a standard system. An energy management “smart home” system monitors all lighting and mechanical systems and can be controlled from an iPhone app. All this adds up to energy consumption projected to be 70 – 80 percent less per square foot than a comparable new home. Based on the Energy Star Yardstick, this house is more energy efficient than 99.9 percent of the homes built since 2000.
Low-flow fixtures, recirculating water features, rainwater capture and recycling systems reduce water use to 30-40 percent less than a traditional home. There are also two green roofs and a vertical herb garden. A passive wine cellar uses the earth’s temperature and concrete to maintain the correct temperature with no refrigeration. Wood floors throughout are reclaimed heart pine from old Virginia factory.
The interior designers responsible for the 18 spaces in this 4,000 square foot house made good use of the ever-increasing market of green finishes and furnishings. My favorites: bath and kitchen countertops made from recycled glass, mirrors, porcelain and industrial furnace residuals; custom designed furniture by Ernesto Santalla made from compressed particle wood, recycled paper and corrugated cardboard; all of the repurposed artifacts such as the 1900s cremorne bolts (originally used as French door hardware) that Susan Gulick hung as wall art.
This house is gorgeous, inside and out. Not all of the spaces are as deeply green as others, but they all have plenty to teach the many visitors who will tour the home before it closes at the end of October. Kudos to Cunningham/Quill Architects, West Group developers and GreenSpur builders.