Casa Verde builds first LEED home in Indianapolis
At first glance, construction firm Casa Verde LLC's latest project at 2129 N. Park Ave. looks little different than other newer homes found in the recently revitalized King Park neighborhood. It shares thematic neighborhood features like wide white-trimmed window sashes, contrasting siding and shingles, and richly hued paint. But this home is unlike any in the neighborhood, or Indianapolis.
That's because Casa Verde's project is the first in the city to utilize the USGBC's LEED for Homes program. Expected to garner a silver-level rating when evaluations are complete this spring, 2129 N. Park represents a leap forward in efficiency, sustainability and durability - without altering potential homeowners' aesthetic expectations. "It can look incredibly traditional, and still be high performance, low-cost to operate and energy efficient," says Casa Verde partner David Kadlec.
Design improvements start with the home's site. The project earns LEED points by occupying an infill lot in a dense urban neighborhood with nearby access to public transportation. The home's orientation is also important; although it offers a homeowner 2,280 square feet, the home's widest span is only 16 feet, reducing its footprint and maximizing land use.
Once they completed the home's framing, Casa Verde applied the home's biggest energy-saving feature: a sprayed foam insulation that filled small gaps between lighting, HVAC and plumbing fixtures, as well as the window and door casements. Reducing air infiltration is the key to increased efficiency, says Mark Jansen of Energy Efficient Homes Midwest, the third-party inspector who will ultimately verify the home's LEED certification. "You can add all the insulation you want to a new home, but if you don't control the air flow, it's all for not," he says.
The utility savings continue with a high-efficiency heat pump, an on-demand water heater and dual-flush toilets. Finishing touches like naturally renewable bamboo flooring and locally produced recycled-content countertops add points towards certification. The home is listed at $314,900, but Kadlec says the buyer can expect to spend 60 percent less per month on energy.
Casa Verde says 2129 N. Park is just the beginning. They also plan to build two neighboring homes and gut rehab an apartment building to LEED specifications. In Columbus, Ind., they're working on a 40-condo LEED project valued at $20 million.
Other firms are interested in green building, too. The Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis reports members of its Green Building Committee are pursuing projects based on the National Association of Home Builders' recently released green construction standards. "Standards like [NAHB and LEED] keep everyone moving in the right direction," says Jeff Echols, an architect with the firm HAUS who is also a BAGI Green Building Committee member and pursuing LEED professional accreditation. "Industry wide changes are made in baby steps."