All Electric Riverfront Eco Home (2557 W. Pensacola Ave.)

This home is unique in that it is situated on an amazing five lot that abuts the North Branch of the Chicago River. This allowed the freedom to shape the building as an ‘L’ to help block noise from Montrose Avenue to the north, to maximize the precious yard space, to provide a large south facing roof surface to the south for the over 10kW solar photovoltaic panel array, and highlight key views that overlook the River and Horner Park to the west.

The house was designed as an all-electric home, with power from the grid tied solar PV’s, stored energy in an array of back-up batteries, and green certified grid power. The house itself does not have a natural gas line, partially in response to fracked natural gases environmental impacts and how the utilities have chosen to raise service charges instead of the actual natural gas charges. To make this work, the home utilizes a series of zoned mini-split HVAC systems, each individually controlled. This helps this larger home function as if it were a smaller home, using the HVAC systems only in areas where they are needed. There is a full house ERV system for highly efficient fresh air control.

In lieu of a gas cooktop, an electric induction cooktop is being used. Induction cooktops are becoming increasing popular even among professional chefs. The hot water is from a hybrid water heating system located in the basement. The last item that typically requires natural gas is the dryer, which will be a electric hybrid dryer system (not a straight electric dryer). The fireplace is a gasketed/sealed combustion, direct vent very high efficiency unit.

The exterior walls are comprised of a cement fiberboard rainscreen system set atop of 2″ of expanded polystyrene insulation that is set on the outside of 2×6 framing (at 19.2″ on center). The 2×6 walls are filled with ‘net and blow’ cellulose. 2″ thick rigid insulation boards are used under the basement slab. The roof itself is a standing seam metal roof with a light colored Energy Star ‘Cool Roof’ finish that makes sunlight see the roof color as an off white.

Natural daylighting is used throughout the house. Natural ventilation is achieved through the use of larger operable skylights in the high ceiling area of the entry foyer in conjunction with many strategically placed operable windows. LED lights are used throughout the house, controlled from an extensive smart home integrated system. That system also includes security, audio/video components and HVAC controls. This includes reporting on the PV solar system as well as motorized shading for solar control through the windows.

The screened porch at the west end of the house uses a motorized screen system for bug control in lieu of using chemicals. The windows have their solar heat gain factor and other characteristics specified by each windows orientation. There are electric charging station locations in the garage. Many of the interior finishes are made from recycled content and/or are locally made. Some of the tiles are from a full silver rated Cradle to Cradle firm.

Check out this home on the 2017 GreenBuilt Home Tour!