Green Technology
Uber Home Blends Tech, Style and Green
This home may be loaded with energy draining high-tech A/V and control systems, but the design team still managed to keep it eco-friendly.
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November 20, 2008 by Arlen Schweiger

The electronic trappings alone stand out—a basement home theater, a pop-up plasma in the bedroom, a TV over the fireplace, multiroom audio, climate and lighting control systems, and more. However, this stylish Lincoln Park–area Chicago home isn’t merely about fancy audio/video and automation. They’re big brush strokes in an overall green picture that’s been carefully crafted by everyone from the builder to the interior designer to the electronics systems contractor.

Because it was constructed as a spec home without an owner waiting in the wings, those pulling the project together could go really green and say it was built for the planet, not the individual. “We’re always looking into the home, but there’s a livelihood that’s more than in these walls,” says Paul Baumeister, whose Niles, IL–based Baumeister Electronic Architects served on the project. “There’s obviously the energy savings, but I think it’s also a way of appreciating the world and nature.” It’s safe to say Baumeister has spent time on the Zen-like rooftop garden.

Of course, the recycled roofing and the outdoor speakers planted up there are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to meshing electronics and green building practices here.

Built to Last
From the moment ground broke, this residence needed to be unique—it was going to be featured in Cooking Light as its 2007 FitHouse. Chicago homebuilder City View Real Estate Group—whose owner, Brad Schreiber, has since been living in the home with his wife and two kids—turned to local architect and green development specialist Kevin Pierce for advice. “He gave us a checklist for being LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified for the city of Chicago,” says Shannon Davies, City View’s project manager. “It was hard because the program was not quite developed yet, but we tried to include what we could.”

Because of Chicago’s ruthless winters, ways to better insulate the home needed tackling first. City View did things such as separating slab from foundation walls to reduce the transfer of cold elements; framing 2-by-4s in a perpendicular fashion to provide a larger insulation cavity; installing triple-paned Pella windows that also reduce the intake of UV rays; and sheltering with Carlisle EcoStar roofing materials.

The 1,500 square feet of roofing, made from 80 percent recycled post-consumer plastic waste such as tires, is lightweight, so it offered cheaper shipping from Pennsylvania and a trimmer top to the home. “It looks exactly like slate and there’s a 50-year warranty, so you save in maintenance alone because it won’t crack like regular slate,” says Davies. “Especially having such a harsh climate here, we wanted a nice product that’s attractive—it definitely holds up.”

The roof is also green in that it’s packed with plantings, which aid in aesthetics as well as insulation, Davies adds. The native Illinois prairie grasses aren’t the only way City View tried to keep transportation-associated costs and emissions down, either; limestone and brick came from nearby Indiana and Kentucky, respectively.

Interior Efficiency, Too
The outside is great, but how about when the family wants to go inside and watch the Bears games in November and December? They can start by keeping warm, thanks to a robust and energy-friendly CleanEffects HVAC system by Trane. It filters 99-percent of the allergens from the air and keeps the gas bill at about a third of what a typical 6,000-square-foot home requires, says Davies. Along with the two-zone heating system, the lower level features subfloor radiant heating in the theater room, exercise room, two bedrooms, bathroom and storage room—only a wine cellar is without it. The exercise room also has rubber-tiled flooring made from recycled tires.

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Arlen Schweiger - Contributor, Electronic House Magazine
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for and Electronic House magazine.

Equipment List

Sony VPL-VW50 Home Theater SXRD Projector
Da-Lite 92-inch Motorized Projection Screen
Panasonic TH-50PX60U 50-inch Plasma
Panasonic TH-42PX75U 42-inch Plasma
Samsung LNT1954 19-inch LCD TV

SpeakerCraft AIM7 Two In-ceiling Speakers (5)
SpeakerCraft AIM8 Three In-ceiling Speakers (5)
SpeakerCraft BassX-10 Powered Floor Subwoofer
SpeakerCraft BassX-12 Powered Floor Subwoofer
SpeakerCraft BB1235-R Rack Mounted 12 Channel Amplifier
SpeakerCraft MT6 One In-wall Speakers (6)
SpeakerCraft CRS6 Zero In-ceiling Speakers (12)
SpeakerCraft OE5 One Outdoor Elements Speakers (8)

Audio/Video Components
Denon AVR-1707 A/V Receiver
Denon AVR-887 A/V Receiver
Denon DVD-1730 DVD Players (3)
Sony CDP-CE375 5-Disc CD Changer
SpeakerCraft VSL60 Volume Controls (4)
TEAC T-R670 AM/FM Tuner
Crestron AAE Adagio Zone Expander
Crestron CEN-IDOC iPod Interface Device
Crestron CNX-BIPAD8 Audio Distribution Processor

Whole-House and Climate Control
Crestron C2N-IVDS24X24 Intercom
Crestron CNRFGWA-418 Mini-touch Gateways (2)
Crestron CNX-B2-8 Designer Keypads (4)
Crestron ML-600 Mini LCD Remote Controls (2)
Crestron CP2E Control System Processor
Crestron ST-SPL Control System Accessory
Crestron TPS-2000L Color Touchpanels (4)
Crestron CHV-TSTAT Thermostats (3)
Crestron CHV-RTHS Temperature Sensors (3)

Lighting and Shading Control
Lutron GRX-FDBI Fluorescent Light Controls (5)
Lutron HD-RD-WH Designer Remote Dimmers (15)
Lutron HRD-10D-WH RF Maestro 1000W Dimmers (4)
Lutron HRD-5NE-WH RF Maestro 500W Dimmer
Lutron HRD-6D-WH RF Maestro 600W Dimmers (15)
Lutron HRD-6ND-WH RF Maestro 600W Dimmers (7)
Lutron HRP5-120 RF Generation 5 Processor
Lutron NGRX-PB-WH 2000W Power Boosters (3)
Lutron HR-REP-120 RF Repeater Systems (4)
Lutron QED Roller Shades with Fascia (3)
Lutron SVQ-10PNL Power Panel
Lutron CCi-8 Contact Closure

Middle Atlantic SLIM 5-43 Equipment Rack
Middle Atlantic RSH4S Custom Equipment Shelves with Face Plates (7)
Monster Power HTFP-500 Flat Screen Power Center
Monster Power HTS-2000 MKII Power Protections (2)
TrippLite HT7300PC Power Conditioner
Holovision Model 200 Doorplate

Systems design & installation
Baumeister Electronic Architects
Niles, IL

City View Real Estate Group
Chicago, IL

Interior Designer
Susan Fredman Design Group
Chicago, IL

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