“Green” remodel makes history in Phoenix

You don’t typically think of Phoenix as a green city. It takes a lot of electricity to power air conditioners in the summer and a lot of water from up north to keep life going year-round. Much of our food has to be brought in from other places.

So, it may come as a surprise that the first Emerald Certified Green Remodel in the nation made its debut last week at 1204 E. Oregon Avenue in Phoenix. The 70-year-old home is about the size of a two-bedroom apartment, and it’s a perfect showcase for the principles of green remodeling. Dubbed the Kindling House, it was a distressed property, but it has been renovated to the highest green building level with impressive results. (To see a collection of photos, go here.)

The certification program is under the auspices of the National Association of Home Builders. The remodel was accomplished jointly by two Phoenix-based companies – Firefly Living and GreenStreet Development.

In remodeling the home, Firefly and GreenStreet reduced the Home Energy Rating — set at 100 for today’s new homes — from 178 to 68. Kindling House features new Energy Star-rated windows and appliances, water-efficient fixtures, upgraded heating, air conditioning and insulation systems, and native landscaping for even more water savings. The builder estimates the improvements should cut water use by 65 percent. There’s no carpet anywhere in the house because carpet gives off fumes from solvents and chemicals present in latex backings, adhesives and carpet padding.

Why does green remodeling matter? “If we are going to significantly reduce residential water and energy use, we need to retrofit and renovate the more than 120 million homes that use excessive amounts of these precious resources,” said Joe Robson, president of NAHB. “I’m proud of all the services we offer through our broad-based green building initiative.”

GreenStreet’s owner, Philip Beere, says his company has a mission of creating walkable neighborhoods, preserving existing structures, and supporting sustainable development. If it can be done in a hot, sprawling metroplex like Phoenix, it can be done anywhere. It’s good to see Firefly and GreenStreet pointing the way.

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