Green building in Phoenix gets LEED certification
by Amy Mastin
Even though he earned his master's degree from Arizona State University months ago, Philip Beere continues to do his homework. The 40-year-old developer purchased a 1960s house in the Biltmore Park area of Phoenix last year and studied the real estate market prior to beginning renovations. His goal: To remodel the property, sell it and turn a profit.
Nearly 500 Arizona homes are LEED registered, and Phoenix claims 9 of 10 certified. Also greening the state are Environments for Living, Scottsdale's Green Building Program and the Northern Arizona Sustainable Building Program.
"The residential market is tough right now," says Beere, founder of Green Street Development. "So I bought in an established neighborhood and analyzed the market. I knew I had to build what people want in this area."
He learned that Phoenix bestsellers are approximately 2,700 square feet with four bedrooms and three baths and designed a plan to transform the 1,700-square-foot, three-bedroom house into a more spacious home. The property is now 2,200 square feet and includes two master suites.
He also knew he needed something to differentiate his home from others, so he turned it green, inside and out.
The exterior is a shade of avocado and the entire property has earned gold certification from the United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Homes program. "My goal was to make the home very efficient and sustainable - environmentally and socially," Beere says.
He started with the floor plan and paid close attention to the home's energy flow and use. Acting as his own contractor, Beere performed a "gut rehab" by stripping the walls down to the studs and filling them with foam insulation. He installed Energy Star windows and appliances, compact fluorescent light bulbs, low-flow water fixtures, countertops made of recycled paper and formaldehyde-free bamboo floors. Outside he added a permeable surface driveway, native desert plants and a drip irrigation system. "Basically I asked myself, 'How do I make the home healthier? How do I cut down on waste? Where can I include recycled products?'"
Beere funded the project with earnings from his first business venture, Ecofresh Planet, a green cleaning company. He's invested about $720,000 in the home where he currently resides and works, but hopes to sell it for about $900,000 later this year and begin another LEED project.
"All I heard in school was LEED, LEED, LEED, so I assumed everything was built that way," he says. He realized soon after his May 2007 graduation that it wasn't so in the housing market. LEED for Homes was in the pilot stage.
"The success of LEED for Homes can be attributed to the commercial work of LEED," notes Richard Zimmerman, LEED for Homes provider in Arizona, Nevada and Utah. "People are searching for brand awareness and are investigating LEED for Homes. Builders can differentiate themselves from their competitors by embracing these programs as homeowners demand green strategies. (Beere) is right on track."