Louisville green building contractor boasts first LEED certified home

Louisville green building contractor boasts first LEED certified home

by Liz Vernon

Kimbel Construction has been constructing energy-efficient homes in the Louisville area since 1998, but they recently took another step into the world of green building with the city's only LEED-certified home.

"We're Louisville's original Energy Star builder," says Vince Kimbel, owner and president of Kimbel Construction. "When we started our business in 1998, we thought it was a great niche to fill. We started building energy-efficient homes, and it's snowballed since then. The next step was to do some type of green home."

They accomplished that goal by building a 2,800-square-foot house to LEED standards in the Stone Lakes subdivision in Jeffersontown. The home, which doesn't have an owner yet, is complete except for the drywall and is on the market for $375,000. "You can still see the raw framing and guts of the home," Kimbel says. "We're leaving it that way until we find a buyer. The exterior's already bricked. It looks just like a finished home until you walk inside."

And once potential buyers venture in, they'll see all the green features, including a geothermal heating and cooling system, Icynene spray foam insulation, insulated foundation walls and exterior wall panels and low-e, argon- filled windows.

"Icynene insulation in the basement and attic is going to keep all unwanted air from entering the home and keep comfortable, conditioned air in the home," Kimbel says. "With geothermal heating and cooling, [you can] cut the heating requirements in half. I'd venture to say utility bills should be more than 50 percent less than a standard home."

Besides this home, there is one other in Lexington that is LEED certified and one in the process of certification. Emma Kuhl, operations manager with The Energy Pros, a group of contractors, builders and manufacturers that works to promote energy-efficient housing, cites a lack of resources and consumer education as reasons why LEED hasn't become more popular in Kentucky. "The closest LEED providers [who certify a home] are in Atlanta and Chicago," she says. "There's no one locally. It costs more money because the provider has to travel to do the verification of the home."

However, Kentucky is taking steps to become more green-building-friendly. The state has partnered with the Green Building Initiative, a non-profit group that promotes residential and commercial green building, and will come out with a local, statewide chapter later this year.

"We support any certification," Kuhl says. "I think [green building] is going to come here. I think a big problem is lack of consumer education. We're just trying to educate everybody."

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Green building for new homes

The LEED for Homes rating system, which officially launched in November, promotes the design and construction of new houses that use less energy, water and natural resources, create less waste and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

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