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Historic Lookalike Home in Florida Costs Only $150 a Month to Cool

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Jul 7, 2014 11:34:00 AM

 Blending InTHIS HOUSE IN SARASOTA, FLORIDA, WASN'T supposed to be green. In fact, the owner, who requested an energy-efficient house, cautioned: “I don’t want a green house. They look ugly, like a garage. I want a home that is a traditional design.” After some back and forth, the owner told custom home builder Josh Wynne that he could make it as green as he wanted as long as he didn’t have to make any financial or aesthetic sacrifices.

Wynne accepted that challenge and built a home that was the highest scoring LEED for Homes Platinum in state of FLA (110); highest scoring FGBC house in country (267). The home’s HERS rating is 27. “You can build a historically accurate home that’s not spare in any finishes and still be at the upper level of the green rating systems,” says Wynne.

Wynne learned that in order to build in the client’s budget he couldn’t rely solely on the open market, either because the products were too expensive or because there wasn’t anything available meeting his green criteria. His answer is to build all the millwork, stair treads, furniture, and other items, much like Gustav Stickley and Green & Green did earlier in the 19th Century.

You’d think custom built-ins would raise the price past the threshold acceptable to Wynne’s client. But not so. Wynne believes that by using his own labor, he is cutting out about 25 middle men in the process of building furniture or other parts of a house. “In our situation with this house, we both the material from about the third guy in the chain of custody.

And by doing that we were able to product a custom built product at a comparable if not better price than even products from China.”

The greatest compliment came when the house was included on a LEED tour of sustainable homes. As people wandered through the new home, they remarked on what a beautiful restoration job Wynne and his team had done.

"If you look at the utilities, you see the results,” says Kean. “For a typical home of this size, people may pay $600 a month. But here the average bill is $150, and that includes a large flat fee, trash pickup and all utilities.”

  • The house is located in a nationally recognized Historic District. A southern exposure allows for the use of passive lighting, passive winter heating, and solar PV.

  • Don't discount the value of built-in and site-built furniture and millwork. Often, it is cost-neutral to manufactured products.

  • The reclaimed columns that flank the fireplace were salvaged from the local historic hotel owned by John Ringling (of Ringling Circus). They are said to have been hand-painted by John's wife, Mabel.

  • The backyard fountain has its own cistern source and runs on a solar pump. Three varieties of native table grapes, along with two large raised bed planters full of herbs and veggies, provide fresh food.

  • The majority of the flooring in the home is veneered hand-scraped maple with a low-VOC finish. Using an engineered product reduces the amount of solid wood required and creates a more durable product. The floor is installed with a water-based VOC complian adhesive over slab and a nail down over subfloor.

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Topics: LEED, solar, energy efficiency, salvaged materials

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