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Chicagoland’s First Passive House

December 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

While it was popularized—and now thrives—in Germany and Scandinavia, the passive house concept actually started in the 1970’s, at the University of Illinois. The technology stagnated in the US after the energy crisis receded, though it took off in Europe.

But, as more developers and consumers in this country accept sustainable architecture, the search is always on for the next superlative in green building. Currently, a passive house truly is the greenest option for new construction. It will likely be some time before another technology dethrones it.

So when the Lema Family decided that they wanted to build a durable, super-efficient home, it wasn’t long before they decided to build a passive house in suburban River Forest, the first certified passive house in the Chicago area.
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Building in Harmony

September 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

Image courtesy of Harmony House.

It’s the greenest animal shelter in Chicago and possibly the nation. Harmony House for Cats, which officially opened its new location this past July, was designed to be a net-zero energy facility with sights set on LEED-NC Platinum. Attaining Platinum appears to be manifest at this point. “It’s only a question of how high our score is going to be,” said Ann Dieter, the Board President of Harmony House.
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Life in the Lab: Experimenting With the Single-Family Home

March 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

It is early adopters that drive down the prices and stretch the capabilities of new technologies, whether it’s the first production automobiles or the latest smart phones. And with much of the green building industry only just emerging, it requires that willingness to try something new, to redefine what’s possible, if these technologies are to take root.

Even before Jim and Beth Masterson decided to refashion a former schoolhouse from the 1880’s into a green home for themselves and their five children, they had begun implementing a greener life. They eschewed the clothes dryer in favor of line drying and the family became avid recyclers and composters. It was an experiment in how environmentally conscious they could make their daily routines without disruption. Read More…