LEED Platinum Net-Zero in Chicago

Written by  //  September 21, 2010  //  Illinois, Single-Family Projects  //  2 Comments

Chicago’s Yannell residence has gained a lot of notoriety as the first “net-zero” home in the city – capable of producing as much energy as it consumes. Yet another home on Chicago’s far northwest side, the Helenowski Residence, has joined the prestigious ranks of ultra-green LEED Platinum homes. In fact, it’s one of the highest overall point totals ever achieved for a LEED-certified home.

Helenowski Residence - Chicago Net-Zero LEED Platinum Home

Net-Zero LEED Platinum Home - Zukas Photography

This incredibly energy-efficient home was actually a gut-rehab ofHelenowski Residence Scorecard a 1950′s brick split-level home, with a major addition, resulting in 3,300 total square feet. The owner has done an incredible amount of work focusing on the Materials and Resources as well as Energy and Atmosphere areas of the home. Some of the sample strategies include:

  • All drywall was recycled-content (for a $1 per sheet premium)
  • Salvaged douglas fir from 1800′s fire-damaged building for ceiling
  • Reuse or salvage for all new interior framing members
  • Diversion of +90% construction debris
  • Reclaimed copper for roofing and gutters
The home also has some exemplary energy characteristics that helped achieve a remarkable HERS score of 13, meaning the home uses 87% less energy than a new home built to code.
The remarkable energy performance was achieved by using soy-based spray foam insulation and a meticulous attention to air sealing in the project. The technical data is quite impressive. The blower door testing gave a result of 604 CFM at 50 Pascals.  With an estimated volume of 37,725 cubic feet of volume in the house, the air changes per hour at 50 Pa was 1.02, and the air changes per hour at natural pressure is .07. In other words, the home is very tight.
Other strategies contributing to the home’s energy performance include:
  • Triple-paned Pella windows with FSC-certified lumber.
  • Geothermal ground source heat pump for HVAC.
  • Solar photovoltaic panels and a vertical-axis wind turbine to generate electricity.
  • Motorized blinds control solar heat gain on west-facing (front) windows.
  • Extremely efficient cold-cathode lighting, up to six times more efficient than LEDs.
  • Roof is partially reflective white and part vegetative green roof.
The is truly a remarkable addition to the Chicago area’s growing green building inventory and offers many lessons for other builders in the area.  Detailed strategies with photos are available at the project’s web site, www.leedhomeliving.com, as well as by downloading the 1-page PDF Helenowski Project Profile that AES has assembled.
More Photos (courtesy of Zukas Photography):
Helenowski - LEED Platinum Net-zero Home - Green roof and VAWT

Vegetative green roof, solar PV, and vertical axis wind turbine

Helenowski LEED Platinum home in Chicago, IL

Front facade constructed of reclaimed stone blast fragments.

Extremely efficient cold-cathode lighting used throughout home.

Motorized blinds allow passive solar heat to temper a room with a thermal storage tank that doubles as a spa.

Download the 1-page PDF Helenowski Project Profile

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  1. USGBC Illinois Chapter's Chicago Branch | Green MLS | Chicagoland Real Estate Forum
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