Green Tour: Angie and Ed’s Practical Green

Green Tour: Angie and Ed’s Practical Green

Name: Angie & Ed
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Size: 2800 sq/ft
Years Owned: 3 Months!


Ed & Angie describe themselves as "not the type of people that want to live on the bleeding edge of any trend," they want to be practical – something most of us can relate to. Ready to settle into a new home to raise their twin daughters, they initially planned to do a gut rehab rather than build new. However, after a few chance encounters with an architect and a group of green real estate agents, they found a set of plans to build a long lasting and affordable new green home.


The main motivation for building their green home was to move into a better school district while staying in the city – but they still wanted something that was unique, good for the family and the environment, and practical. To reconcile their bad feelings about tearing down an existing home to build new, they deconstructed the home (themselves!) and were able to salvage many materials such as the oak floors to reuse in their new home. Other items such as doors, trim and appliances were given away to friends and neighbors or sold on Craigslist.

The plans they started with, a design collaboration from the Green Home Partners and Nathan Kipnis Architects, were meant to be the equivalent of 21st Century green bungalow: a home that is appropriately sized for a family of four, but with room to grow, and is as sustainable and affordable as possible. The plans were quickly converted to working drawings and were expedited through the Chicago Green Permit process – a green building program similar to LEED, which awarded the home a 3-Star rating - the highest rating possible.

The home features an open, yet compact floor plan that is adaptable for future changes. Specific green features include solar thermal panels, an extensive green roof, Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) foundation, and a high efficiency zoned HVAC system with radiant floor heating, and a whole house fan. Other green items include bamboo and reclaimed oak flooring, recycled glass tile, concrete countertops, low-VOC finishes, cement fiberboard siding, cellulose and rockwool insulation, transoms above interior doors, Energy Star windows and all Energy Star appliances.

Unfortunately, shortly after completing their project, Ed found out he needed to relocate for his job. While they are disappointed to only be able to live in their house for a few months, they look forward to greening their next home.

AT Survey:

My/Our style: Simple, casual, less is more. Partially because that is truly our aesthetic, partially because we have not fully unpacked. A week before we moved in, my husband was given a great career opportunity in Minneapolis... and we're taking it.

Inspiration: Sarah Susanka's "The Not So Big House." We like her philosophy on open, yet separate spaces, rooms and nooks that serve specific purposes, focus on architectural details. (Though we both laugh that a 2800sf home can be called "not so big.")

Favorite Element: Rain chains, outdoor dining courtyard, mudroom, transom windows over the bedroom doors.

Favorite Green Element: Radiant floor heat, green roof, James Hardie cement fiberboard siding.

Biggest Challenge: Being over budget from Day One.

What Friends Say: "After all that work, I can't believe you have to leave!"

Biggest Embarrassment: Ed having to tell Angie after a year of homebuilding stress and anxiety that he was asked to move to Minneapolis.

Proudest DIY: Most things were left to professionals, but we did plant the green roof on our own.

Biggest Indulgence: Well, the whole project was a big indulgence, but if we had to choose one thing, it would be the radiant floor heat.

Dream Source: The interior designers from the HGTV show "The Stagers."

Best advice received: Don't beat yourself up over tearing down the existing house. A new energy efficient home has the potential to be here a lot longer with the same amount of effort.

Best advice you'd give to anyone trying to green their home: Being green isn't just about the products, it is also about the design. Work with a green professional who can incorporate some of these ideas into the inherent features of the home (i.e., in our home we have a "solar chimney"). The floor plan of the house also really clicked with us. Nate's smart design allowed for more exterior green space than I've ever seen in comparison to other new homes in the city on similar lot sizes. And because we didn't have to maximize the square footage to get the functionality we needed, we used less building materials.

Future Goals: Find ways to green our next home in Minneapolis.



Appliances: GE Cafe Range, Jenn-Air refrigerator and micro/convection oven, Bosch hood and dishwasher, Whirlpool Duet w/ Steam Washer and Dryer.

Hardware: Grohe, Toto and Kohler faucets and showerheads, Toto Aquia dual flush toilets, Restoration Hardware mirrors and medicine cabinets, cabinet hardware from Home Depot and Restoration Hardware.

Furniture: Room & Board, Crate & Barrel, Target, IKEA, Pottery Barn, Land of Nod.

Accessories: What accessories? Most of them are still packed!

Landscaping: Loosely based on a plan we won at a silent auction from Wolff Landscape. Shrubs and plants from Gethsemane Garden installed by us. Green Grid DIY roof system from Weston Solutions.

Lighting: Hudson Valley, Stonegate, Forecast, Hampton Bay ceiling fans.

Rugs and Carpets: Pottery Barn and Land of Nod.

Tiles and Stone: Bathroom tile purchased at Greenmaker Supply (Crossville EcoCycle on floors, Eco-Gres Asia in master bath shower, Eco-Gres Mosaic in hallway bath shower), Beuchel Stone Veneer on front exterior of house.

Tiles and Stone: Soupcan concrete countertop in Kitchen, Icestone in upstairs baths.

Window Treatments: Still using paper shades...

Beds: Room & Board, Crate & Barrel, MaxTrix bunk beds bought at Lazar's Furniture.

Artwork: What artwork? Most is still packed! Even if it were on display, you would find much of it consists of our girls' handiwork, family and travel photos taken by us, and inexpensive prints and posters that happen to be sentimental to us. We're not big collectors; how else would we have been able to save for this?

Paint: Benjamin Moore Eco-Spec (Lancaster Whitewash in majority of house, Decorator's White for trim, Manchester Tan in living room, Revere Pewter in powder room, Ocean Air in Master Bath, Pink Peony in girls' bedroom, North Cascades in girls' bathroom).

Flooring: Foundations Twisted Strand Bamboo from Greenmaker Supply, reclaimed oak and maple floors in the 3 bedrooms, oak staircase, slate tile in first floor entry, mudroom and bathroom.

(Thanks, Ameila, Rosalind, Angie, & Ed!)


Photos by Angie & Ed
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