The ABC Green Home 1.0 receives the green light to move on to HERS testing.
By Lauren Felechner
Photography by Nick Kosan
During construction, the project had grown into a tangible creation that exemplifies and goes beyond the standards of today’s green living, providing an example of teamwork, dedication, perseverance and forward-thinking. The partnership behind Green Home Builder magazine’s ABC Green Home 1.0 project has helped build this development from the ground up.
The ABC Green Home 1.0 passed its MEP inspection, which includes the mechanical, electrical and plumbing components of the project, gave them the green light to move onto the insulation process and proceed with the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) testing and drywall. Much of the home’s success and progress is due to the involvement and interest that is in the project. With such members as Peninsula Publishing and Green Home Builder magazine’s publisher, Nick Slevin; John Morton, program manager, California Advanced Homes for Southern California Edison (SCE); BCA Development’s Tim Anderson; KTGY Group, Inc., Architecture and Planning’s Manny Gonzalez; Nicole Feenstra, ABC Green Home project manager and producer of the ABC Green Home web series; Michael Reed who is the construction occupations instructor for North Orange County ROP as well as a teacher at Gilbert High School; and Pat Hansmeyer, public information manager, North Orange County ROP; these individuals gathered at the construction site to send off and show their appreciation in a plaque ceremony for the Building Industry Technology Academy (BITA) students who played a large part in the construction of the ABC Green Home project.
Not only is the ABC Green Home a model of sustainable living through achieving both Net-Zero energy and Universal Design, but this project has served as an educational module and hands-on experience for the North Orange County ROP students who are enrolled in the BITA program. According to Reed and Hansmeyer, there are seven BITA programs in North Orange County located at each high school, established as a four-year building academy, and the inclusion of the BITA students into the ABC Green Home was facilitated by Morton. “[The home] had been [John’s] dream for years, and he wanted to incorporate ROP with it,” Reed stated. Within this program, there are 12 students enrolled with about five spending time on-site during the week for eight hours each day.
On Fridays, the students attend ROP class where they stay busy with learning such skills as electrical and plumbing components, welding, as well as building a three-way light circuit for the electrical elements of the home. According to Hansmeyer, the implementation of the students in the construction process of the ABC Green Home helped the ROP program evolve and develop a brand new, community classroom component to their instruction course — offering dual experience for the students as they earn high school credit while gaining hands-on experience during the on-site building. “They are getting school credits and learning on the job — what could be better?” Hansmeyer stated. She continued, “If it wasn’t for the industry, we wouldn’t have a program …” To achieve a thorough and proficient understanding of the home’s construction, the BITA students were teamed up with trades people to ensure efficient execution of the projects development. “Eddie [Ponce] and Tim [Anderson] are the ones who are out there every day with the kids and have the most interaction with them,” Morton explained. He continued, “It was very pleasantly surprising to me that the trades [people] were so receptive and were really excited about teaching the kids while they were out here. My fear when they started all this was that they would be hands-off and not really into it. They really relish the fact of being a teacher.”
This hands-on experience that the students have been able to achieve through the on-site instruction and interaction with their teachers, trades people and industry members, has allowed for an understanding of construction, home building and all that the ABC Green Home entails — that goes beyond the classroom. Anderson, who has partnered with the BITA program as the builders for the project, stated that, “[The students have] been involved since the grading process began, and the slab being poured, but their first real day was when they started lifting walls up.” The students were on-site for five weeks, but were first prepped in their classrooms prior for the first week or two, as their first contribution to the ABC Green Home were the frames of the walls.
Each participating high school was to build one of the walls at their school, and then bring them to the site to connect. “The students get to see a real-life situation, working on a real-life job with actual trades people, and we kind of prepped them for that in our classrooms. How to be here on time, work hard, safety, take your breaks when you need to,” Reed said. He continued, “All of what we have been teaching them goes into this right here. Even though we build our little structures in the classroom, it’s not like being on the actual jobsite. Any time we get to do something like this is great because being on the site allows for them to see what actually goes into green technology and to be more aware of it.” According to Reed, working in the construction and home building industry allows for involvement in different types of projects with different people for different markets — making for a unique personality for each development. In his 40 years of working in the industry, he noted that he has never seen a project with as much involvement from different participating industry members as the ABC Green Home. “It’s phenomenal how many people in the industry have donated to this project,” Reed stated.
For the partners that have been a part of the ABC Green Home 1.0 project from the beginning, the progress that was made and actually bringing their vision to life is an exciting process. Gonzalez, who designed the project, has witnessed the entire development of the ABC Green Home from the design boards to the construction site. “It’s always exciting to see a house get built that you have been working on, and this one is especially exciting to see because of all the things we are trying to do with the energy-efficiency, the Universal Design, as well as see all of these things come together and to think that at one point, someone is actually going to live inside of it is really satisfying,” Gonzalez stated.
To help bring the ABC Green Home project to an audience that goes beyond magazine features and still-images is Peninsula Publishing’s ABC Green Home web series, spearheaded by Feenstra. In this series, Feenstra and her team produce episodes, updating readers and viewers alike on the project’s process, and what there is to look forward to next. There is no doubt that this project has grown in interest as the expansive world of the Internet has helped reach a broader and inquisitive audience. “I always think it’s a good idea to share the things that you are learning and that you are trying to develop as you go forward, so the Web is certainly one way that people can find things that they don’t really know what they are searching for,” Gonzalez said. He continued, “So the Web is a great resource for a number of things and this house is a great resource for people trying to learn about energy-efficient home building and Universal Design within the floor plans itself.”
As the time for the BITA students to work on the ABC Green Home project came to a close, their contributions and dedication were acknowledged by the owners, instructors and project team with a plaque ceremony conducted by John Morton in the ABC Green Home’ soon-to-be garage. Each student was called up individually to be presented with their plaque and other giveaways for their time on-site.
“We enjoyed seeing you guys come down here and getting engaged in the process, and I was pleasantly surprised at how the industry engaged and were willing to work together,” Morton said, “We wanted to give you a token of our appreciation of you guys working so hard down here and helping make this a really successful project—because we feel this is something we can show as a road-map to replicate moving forward.” The ABC Green Home 1.0 can surely set a precedent for the green building industry and for those who are looking to push the boundaries and take sustainable living one step further.