Almost everyone remembers building with legos, the way the colorful plastic pieces joined together with our imagination to bring our vision to reality.
In Linda and David Patton’s new home being built on Hayselton Drive, insulated concrete forms, ICFs, reversible, pre-assembled fox blocks that click together will provide the wall system and foundation for the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Certified residential property in Jefferson City, and only the second one built in Missouri.
The 2,400 square feet home (1,800 square feet of living space) received the highest certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, USGBC, which offers third-party verification for both residential and commercial green buildings nationwide.
“We’ve always wanted to build a ‘green’ home, but when we moved to Jefferson City we abandoned that idea,” said Linda, a veterinarian for 25 years and the owner of the Westside Veterinary Clinic.
She and David, her husband of 30 years and vice principal at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, had hoped to build an earth-contact home on their property in Centertown. Instead, they planned to remodel a home they purchased on Hayselton Drive, formerly owned by Eddie and Yvonne Gray of the old Eddie Gray’s Body Shop in Jefferson City.
Michael Klement, the principal of Architectural Resources in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and his team had almost completed the design plans for the remodel, but in December of 2015 the couple met with their contractor Mike Lueberring and had a decision to make.
“We found out that it would be much cheaper to tear down the home than remodel, so we decided to demolish it and that paved the way for us to start from scratch on an energy-efficient home,” she said.
The couple moved into their rental home next door and began preparing for the D-day on June 27.
They wanted to reuse parts of their original home and salvaged tongue and groove paneling as well as fireplace stone that will be used on the pillars of the new front porch, before the demolition.
“We had these large glass panels on the east side of the house and when I heard the glass break, that was really hard. It looked like a giant T.rex (dinosaur) was eating our house. I remember thinking, ‘oh what have we done,’” she said.
Her feelings were short lived though and soon their focus was building their new home, which they named “The Gardens.”
“The design of their home engages the land, their health, durability of the home and soil conservation,” Klement said. “They have gone to great lengths to work with the landscape designer and their builder to design a high-efficiency, high-performance home and create an entire ecosystem.”
“Most of us just live in our homes and have little understanding of the effects they have on the environment and the inhabitants. Their home is going to enhance their life, use half as much energy, be more durable and make a smaller impact on the land,” he said.
The fox blocks along with other materials and design elements used in the construction of the house earned points in many sustainability areas used in the national LEED certification process – such as being more energy and water efficient, reducing green house gas emissions and providing an overall healthier environment for the residents.
Klement points out that the U.S. Department of Energy reports that the residential sector is responsible for 25 percent of the energy consumption in the U.S. and that we consume nine times as much electricity as the rest of the homes in the world. The fox blocks offer the highest level of stability and are used in homes in Florida to stand up against hurricanes. This material also offers excellent thermal performance, resulting in lower in lower energy consumption and costs of operation, while maintaining a very comfortable interior environment. The house will also utilize radiant floor heat, using a gas water boiler system under the stained concrete floors.
An energy recovery ventilator, ERV, which continuously overturns the air inside the house, keeps the environment mold free and warms the cold air brought into the house. The EPA estimates that we spend 90 percent of our time indoors where the air pollutants can be two to five times higher than normal, and The Journal of Allergies reports that one-third of our buildings are toxic and that’s believed to be linked to an increase in childhood asthma. The ERV will allow the Pattons to enjoy the freshest air possible inside their home.
There will be no gutters on the house as all of the rain will come off of the roof and into the ground and become part of a rain harvesting system constructed between the foundation of the house, backing up to the retaining walls.
Known as an aquifer, the system is an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock, from which groundwater can be extracted using a water well.
According to Don Mueller of Mueller Landscaping, who designed and constructed the aquifer system for the Pattons, it isn’t a new concept but was used by the ancient Romans and Egyptians and is now being revisited for its efficiencies.
In the Patton’s case, gravel fills a rubber liner, with a protective cushion underneath it to prevent any tears. Pavers will cover the gravel and will be set with a quarter-inch space in between them and filled with an aggregate substance so the water can seep through to the storage aquifer, which will stretch from the back corner of the garage to the front corner of the house holding about 1,500 gallons of rainwater. Any overflow from the aquifer will flow into a bioswale in the front yard where it will gradually seep out into the ground.
A watering spigot connected to the aquifer will be used to water the native plants, like buffalo grass and beauty berry, which make up their yard and will also attract wildlife.
Two-tiered versalok retaining walls were installed on the north and west side of the property due to the slope of the land and are part of the landscaping and décor of the home. The height of the first wall was designed so that Linda who stands at 5’ 4” can easily tend to the plants on that level.
“If we had put one gigantic wall there it would overwhelm the space,” Linda said. “The two-tiered wall allow us the plantings as well as softens the effect of the wall and gives a very natural look incorporated into the design of the gardens.”
In addition to the fox blocks, a green home uses FSC Certified lumber from managed forests and sources items from close distances to limit the gas needed to drive them to the site.
For the exterior, durable fiber cement siding, FCS, specifically Hardee Plank Lap siding that comes painted from the factory will be installed.
“Generally people consider the location of a house, do they like it and can they afford it,” Klement said. “But the reality is that most new homes are obsolete the minute they turn the key and walk into the house. The Pattons are building a future-ready home, one that is enabled with the capability to one day use solar energy.”
While the cost is 10 percent more than the average home, he said, the National Association of Realtors, has gathered data that shows that green certified homes are commanding a 10 percent increase at resale.
“There’s still a stigma of what a green home is going to look like, but their home is going to be a window into what’s possible,” he said. “Linda and David have a holistic vision and the courage to embrace a building revolution.”
While they have a long way to go, the couple will finally see their long time dream become a reality.