Baltimore green building springs up in historic neighborhood

by Tristan Schmid

When Baltimore couple Elvon and True Lloyd visited a green-building exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., they were intrigued and inspired. Soon afterward, they visited a green community in Baltimore called Clipper Mill and were hooked.

In 2002, development company Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse bought the 18-acre Clipper Mill site, a former foundry located in the city's historic Woodberry neighborhood. Today, the mixed-use community features condos, lofts, a restaurant, a coffee shop, and artist studios and galleries, whose buildings are all seeking LEED silver certification. SBER hopes to obtain LEED certification for all of its projects nationwide mainly because the program supports building where infrastructure and public amenities are already in place, according to Jennifer Goold, assistant development director for SBER.

Adjacent to Druid Hill Park in Baltimore, Clipper Mill offers attractive and efficient modern conveniences with urban yet ecological homeownership within the Overlook development. "We came by [Overlook] and walked through houses under construction last May," Elvon says. "The project looked interesting, so in July we decided to sign a contract. We watched the whole thing go up and have lived here since October. We're quite happy with the home."

When complete, Overlook will have 36 LEED silver-rated duplexes, which are built and certified as they're sold. The Lloyds' is the first to be LEED certified in Maryland, and the second, also in Overlook, is soon to be occupied. The Overlook project accounts for all but two of the LEED-registered houses in the state. (LEED is currently the only green building third-party verification in Maryland, though the Home Builders Association of Maryland is developing a program.) And even though there's construction in his neighborhood, Elvon says it's not a problem. "The house is tight," he says. "Other than the occasional truck, we don't hear the noise."

Priced from the low $500,000s, the units host many green features. "The siding is cement-based HardiePlank, so it's not necessary to chop down trees for the houses," says Sarah Taylor, agent for Yerman, Witman, Gaines and Garceau Realty, who sells the homes. The houses also have low-maintenance standing-seam metal roofs, which provide insulation, in addition to the formaldehyde-free insulation in the attic and walls.

The home's interior is ecological, as well. Kitchen cabinets made by Valcucine and imported from Italy are made of Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood and recycled-aluminum frames. The stainless-steel appliances — all Energy-Star rated — are efficiently powered: SBER and WindCurrent provide Overlook homeowners with 12,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy certificates from wind power: enough to offset the carbon impact of each home's electrical use for a year. Though the Lloyds haven't lived in their house long enough to determine energy savings, Elvon says SBER helped them understand its efficiency. "They showed us how they arrived at the silver rating and let us ask lots of questions so we understand what a green home really is."

Goold says SBER wants to help educate clients about their homes because houses are such big contributors to greenhouse gases. "Buying a LEED-certified new home in an existing city means you're investing in changing the impact you have on the planet," she says.


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