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.
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.