A Green Idea Blossoms to Reality for 1.0

The “Affordable, Buildable, Certified” Green Home 1.0 process from concept and design to creating participating partnerships and construction planning.

By Carina Calhoun

It all started with two men watching the back end of the 2011 Super Bowl game over a beer, and an idea was born. The “Affordable, Buildable, Certified” (ABC) Green Home originated as our Publisher Nick Slevin and John Morton, program manager, California Advanced Homes for Southern California Edison (SCE), created the concept determined to set the bar for sustainable standards, affordable living and inspiring innovation by producing a demonstration home experience of an affordable Net-Zero energy home. With Green Home Builder being a leading U.S. home building industry magazine exclusively dedicated to sustainable residential design and construction, it was a no brainer when deciding to platform the project in a two-part presentation in the Spring and Summer issues and to debut the virtual tour at the June 2011 Pacific Coast Builders Conference (PCBC) in San Francisco.

The project called for several partners to take on the various roles. First, the design elements and essentials needed to be determined and it did not take long before we were having lunch with noted architect Manny Gonzalez, AIA LEED AP, principal at Los Angeles-based KTGY Group Inc., about how this idea could become a reality. The design of the ABC Green Home was crafted to be easily built by a homebuilder as a stand-alone custom or within a subdivision of single-family homes on any lot in the country. The affordable home holds an all-inclusive price of $300,000 as a one-story floor plan with less than 1,700 square feet and will feature universal design principles, making it suitable for a wide cross-section of homebuyers. Gonzalez stated, “I have had the opportunity to work on several homes like this and it is a lot like herding cats, but the value of what the home demonstrates in this case seems to bring everyone together because of the great story it tells our industry.”

The virtual home tour showcases sustainable products and cutting-edge construction techniques to be theoretically certified by La Jolla Pacific Ltd. per the NAHB’s National Green Building Standard, the California Advanced Homes Program — sponsored by California’s utility providers — and Energy Star. Gouvis Engineering Consulting Group Inc. serves as the structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) engineer. According to Don Neff, LEED AP, president and CEO of La Jolla Pacific, the ABC Green Home is an example for the building industry of a demonstration home showing the latest green building construction assemblies and components which make up the important differences between standard construction practices and Net-Zero energy design and building practices.

Striving to incorporate the latest in technological advances in the industry including sustainable procedures, the meeting that was taken with iPda gave our team an informative insight into the cutting-edge building and modeling software platform bsBIM. This allowed for the various building partners to work and interact on the same virtual design in real-time. Determining the software modeling team lead the development process to collaborate with Ripple Creative Group and Dynamic Concepts, bringing the virtual vision to life and drawing the viewer into the photorealistic tour.

The modeling and rendering phase of the virtual tour took long hours and with the help of the various team members — and from what I can only assume, copious amount of caffeine — the home was truly a labor of love. The challenge posed for the architect, designer and virtual partner alike to create and craft a home without the knowledge of products as the process was taking shape. The timeline was a crunch, to say the least.

Contemporary merchandising for the home was provided by a partnership with Venture One Design Interiors Inc. and sustainable landscaping by Urban Arena LLC. As the process began to take form, several product partners jumped on board to be featured throughout the home. All of the home’s green interior and exterior products, including no-VOC Glidden paints, Milgard windows, doors, faucets, bathroom fixtures, appliances and solar from SunGreen Solar, are visible and “clickable” as you tour the home online.

Adding to the collaborative performance of the project, Building Industry Technology Academy (BITA) students earned school credit for helping to build the net-zero energy home, which will be used by SCE as a demonstration home for 12 months and later donated.

Facilitating the direction of this project took diligence and determination. The process included weekly conference call meetings with all members of the team and a mandatory agenda which was facilitated by our Project Manager Nicole Feenstra, a green product consultant. As we updated and informed each other on the status of the different elements, the team was heavily involved in every part of the production process by communicating constantly. Through many emails, long meetings, hard work and dedication, the project that began as an idea hoping to impact the industry, as a result, has become a reality.

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