USGBC Awards Local ecoREMOD1 Energy House LEED® Platinum Certification
The ecoREMOD1 Energy House at 608 Ridge Street (LEAP’s current office) has been awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification (the highest rating possible) by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for achievement in green homebuilding and design. LEED for Homes is a green home certification program that rewards homes that are designed and built to be energy- and resource-efficient and more healthy and durable for the occupants. LEED-certified homes complete a technically rigorous process that often includes a home energy (HERS) rating and onsite inspections to verify that the home is built to be energy and water efficient, environmentally sound, and a healthier place to live.
ecoREMOD1 is one of two local homes that have been certified platinum using LEED (one of 10 local homes with any level of LEED certification). This historic home in the City’s Ridge Street Neighborhood was substantially rehabilitated through a partnership of the City of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia by Alloy Workshop (known for their expertise in energy efficiency renovations), and with a generous donation by Dominion Virginia Power. LEAP (the Local Energy Alliance Program) was also a major sponsor and participant in informing the deep energy retrofit vision. ecoREMOD1 is the first of several sustainable renovation projects designed by UVa’s ecoMOD / ecoREMOD Project, a partnership of the schools of architecture and engineering. Green homes may have substantially lower utility bills and may qualify for advantageous financing, lower insurance rates, and government incentives.
Specific information about the home ecoREMOD1 at 608 Ridge Street, designed and funded by the City of Charlottesville and University of Virginia (UVa), inspired by the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) and with the support of a host of fantastic community partners, was transformed from a formerly neglected historic home into an innovative energy demonstration house between 2009-2011. A wonderful example of a community’s (re)investment in both its history and its future, the house was in a state of neglect and disrepair when the City purchased it in 2007. Rather than condemn and demolish – and sacrifice the historical significance of this home which stands on a prominent corner of a historic neighborhood – the City undertook an extensive renovation effort to bring the house back from the brink. The challenge for the City and its partners was to preserve the home’s historic character, optimize energy and water efficiency, and incorporate real-world, economically viable strategies to do so.
Key parts of the successful certification include a rainwater harvesting system, solar panels to provide electricity, solar thermal hot water, and minimizing impervious surfaces onsite. To showcase the largest benefits to energy efficiency – air sealing and insulation – which often are not visible, the house features “Truth Windows” that allow visitors to see the work done behind the walls. ecoREMOD1 is currently used as offices for LEAP as well as a space for the community to access resources related to home energy and water efficiency.
The design of the house, and the pursuit of EarthCraft and LEED certification are thanks in large part to a team of architecture and architectural history students from UVa. A team of UVa engineering students has designed and installed a monitoring system at ecoREMOD1 to track energy use, temperature, humidity and other environmental conditions. Individuals can find data on the amount of electricity produced by the ecoREMOD1 solar PV array (and compare to their own residential electricity use) at charlottesville.org/citysolar.
The house is currently being rented by LEAP to be used as an office and as an educational and outreach resource on the topic of energy efficiency in our community’s existing building stock, both residential and commercial. A small apartment unit is rented to a member of the community.
• Made substantial upgrades to the heating and cooling systems with high efficiency heat pump and a ductless mini-split in the apartment.; installed a combination dehumidifier and heat recovery ventilator
• Incorporated a range of practices that address indoor air quality and waste reduction and promote sustainable products
• Added critical insulation throughout the house, including “Air Krete” insulation which expands until all voids are filled; ideal for the walls along the front porch where efforts were made not to disturb the original plaster on the interior and stucco on the exterior
• Replaced lighting and plumbing fixtures with energy efficient and low-flow varieties, including a unique “sink positive” toilet
• Removed/weatherized/reinstalled the majority of the original windows and installed interior storm windows
• Refurbished and reused trim and doors around the house (One door now serves as a desk!)
• Reused and refinished the original wood floors; used FSC-certified wood for the new basement floors
• Installed a 550-gallon cistern under the front porch to harvest rainwater from the roof gutters to be used in landscaping and gardening
• Pursued a landscaping strategy based on native and drought tolerant species
• Selected locally sourced soapstone for kitchen counters
• Replaced old roof with a reflective Galvalume roof to reduce solar gain
• Installed programmable thermostat to control the temperature
• Incorporated (27) 215-watt solar modules on the roof for a total of 5,805 watts of electrical production with a battery backup system. The array will produce more than 7 million watt hours of electricity per year or about 585 kilowatt hours per month
• Installed a solar thermal system that will supply about 70-80% of domestic hot water needs annually for a family of 4-5
By the Numbers
• 1922 Year built
• 1960s Point at which the house was no longer owner-occupied
• 1981 Year that Ridge Street Historic District was added to the National Register of
• 1993 Year in which nuisance and building code violations at 608 Ridge Street began
• 2009 Deep energy retrofit project (ecoREMOD1) began
• 2010 Ribbon cutting for ecoREMOD1, occupied by LEAP
• 2013 USGBC awards LEED Platinum designation
• 69 Number of calls for service the Charlottesville Police Department received for the
house in 2006 alone, 13 related to drug activity
• 7 Arrests at the house in 2006, 4 related to drugs and alcohol
• 2007 Year City of Charlottesville purchased the house
• 2009 Year in which renovations on the house began
• 30-50 Percentage projected energy savings
• 50 Percentage of energy use expected to be supplied by solar power
The U.S. Green Building Council is a nonprofit membership organization whose vision is a sustainable built environment within a generation. Since USGBC’s founding in 1993, USGBC has grown to more than 18,000 member companies and organizations and a comprehensive suite of LEED green building certification systems. Its membership includes corporations, builders, universities, government agencies, and other nonprofit organizations all sharing USGBC commitment to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. Visit www.usgbc.org for more information.
About LEED for Homes
LEED for Homes is a third-party certification system for building and designing high-performance green homes that are energy-and-resource-efficient and healthy for its occupants. Developed and administered by USGBC, LEED for Homes awards points to projects in eight categories of environmental performance: Innovation & Design Process, Location & Linkages, Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Indoor Environmental Quality, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, and Awareness & Education. To date, more than 18,000 units have achieved certification with LEED for Homes program, and over 75,000 have registered and are in process. For more information, visit www.usgbc.org/homes.