Raleigh green building first for platinum LEED certification

Raleigh green building first for platinum LEED certification

by Jackie Browning

When Jonathan Philips decided to build a new home in Raleigh, he combined his personal life with his professional interest in green building and sustainability. Philips is the Senior Director of Cherokee Investment Partners, a company that specializes in brownfield redevelopment. Cherokee's headquarters were the first LEED platinum building in North Carolina, so it's no surprise they developed what they call Philips' Mainstream GreenHome under the same guidelines.

The home, which was part of the LEED for Homes pilot program and is aiming for platinum certification, is intended as a national model and living laboratory in green building. "We went into this saying, 'We don't know how to build green, but we want to learn,' and we want to help educate everyone else," Philips says.

His home is the first in North Carolina to pursue platinum LEED for Homes certification, but seven other projects in the state are now registered. In Charlotte, the local Habitat for Humanity has completed a home aiming for LEED silver, while custom home builder Banister Homes is beginning another this spring. In the Triad area, Metropolis Architecture is beginning work this year on two new LEED houses in Winston-Salem, which will be part of a five-home project called Calliope Place.

In Raleigh, the research and development for the Mainstream GreenHome started in 2004 and Philips, his wife Eva, and their four children moved into the home in August of 2007. The name of the project was born out of Cherokee's main challenge: how to make a home that is aesthetically attractive, with everyday conveniences, while still pushing the envelope in sustainability. "One of the biggest compliments we get is when folks are trying to find the green home and can't tell which one it is," Philips says.

The list of green features in the 4,300-square-foot brick home is extensive, but Philips' favorite aspects of the home are those that combine convenience and sustainability. "We have highly reflective shingles that make the attic very temperate, which opens it up as more living space," he says. The interior lighting is comprised of LED and CFL lights, while the outdoor fixtures use solar energy. The wood flooring is made from logs that were drudged from the bottom of Cape Fear River, and almost everything in the home is made of recycled or recyclable materials, cutting down on construction waste.

Jamie Hager of Southern Energy Management, a provider of energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions, was the third-party inspector for Philips' residence. "It's great to have a home like this in Raleigh," Hager says. "When people say, 'we can't do rainwater capture systems here,' we have something to point to that demonstrates all of these technologies."

Even the next door neighbors are catching the green bug. "They asked us how our fence was green," Philips says. "I told them it's a composite material made of wood fibers that would have otherwise gone to the landfill. Now they have the same fence."

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