Apr 042013

A home called the Treehouse Project is the result of a dream of village resident Merilee Marshall.

“I named it the treehouse because I would rather live in a tree than anywhere else, and trees harvested from the property were used to build it.”

The custom-built, 4,200-square-feet “green” house was designed and built with energy-saving features. Now, it has been awarded the platinum certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design organization of the U.S. Green Building Council. It was recognized for being energy and resource efficient and being more heal-thy and durable for its occupants.

The platinum rating is the highest rating for a green and energy-efficient home. The Treehouse Project is the first custom home in Northeast Ohio to achieve the LEED platinum certification. It was designed by David Krebs of AODK architectures in Lakewood and built by Payne and Payne Builders in Munson.

LEED-certified homes undergo a process that includes onsite inspections to verify that the home is built to be energy and water efficient, environmentally sound and a healthier place to live.

South Russell did building inspections on the house from start to finish, said David Hocevar, the village’s building commissioner. “It’s the first and only platinum house in the county. There is a lot of interest in green houses today.”

Ms. Marshall has had a dream all of her adult life to design and build a home. Located on Bell Road, it’s built with energy-saving features that include a solar panel roof and geothermal heating system with radiant heat in the floors.

“I decided in 2008 if I was going to do it, it was now or never,” she said, adding she met Mr. Krebs in church.

The house was built with local products, Ms. Marshall pointed out. “All the flooring, cabinets and woodwork were made from maple trees I had to clear from the property.”

Local limestone was used, along with other products that created as little waste as possible. “Recycled materials were also used where it made sense,” she said. “We weighed the cost vs. green products. I wanted to make this house a prototype for Northeast Ohio.”

Solar Voltaic panes are used on the roof to harvest energy from the sun. A geothermal system installed in the ground is a network of pipes that harvests energy from the ground to heat the house.

The project includes energy-efficient windows, high-efficiency lighting fixtures and high-density, recycled, wool-cellulose insulation.

The solar system feeds into the electrical grid. “I don’t pay gas or electricity eight months out of the year,” Ms. Marshall said. Although she pays $30 a month in taxes and fees to have a gas account, she’s almost eliminated gas usage. “I get credit for what I produce, and it goes to the meter and turns the meter back.”

Materials that do not deteriorate were used. There is no copper piping, which leaches and seeps into ground water. There are no wood preservatives on the outside deck, which is made of materials that do not have to be preserved.

Siding is cement instead of wood and is made of recycled materials instead of a petroleum product. It lasts longer than wood prevents the use of trees. It’s also more air tight than vinyl siding, according to Mike Payne of Payne and Payne builders.

Mr. Krebs said his architectural firm is doing more designing of energy-efficient, green homes. The design of the Treehouse Project took more than a year and much research.

The platinum award is the highest category in the LEED program, Mr. Krebs said. “This is only the fourth custom home to get this award. It’s very exciting.”

The house on three acres has three bedrooms, three full baths and two half baths. It includes a playroom for the grandchildren.

Ms. Marshall credits interior designer Kathleen O’Neill with the inside layout with large windows that let in light from every angle.

“I like the outdoors, and I wanted a lot of windows,” the homeowner said.

Outside, she planted all native plants with no grass. Along with bushes and trees, there are rock pathways. Rain gardens retain water running off the roof for water management. The patio is made of bluestone, a natural stone from Pennsylvania.

Ms. Marshall’s house was featured in a green home tour in 2010 sponsored by the Home Builders Association and in landscaping tours.

While she did not save on the cost of construction, that is typical in building a green house, she explained. While costs are more than a traditional home, over the years a traditional home costs more to maintain. “That is one reason why it is sustainable.”

Ms. Marshall has lived in the area and in other houses for about 40 years. She indicated she would build again if the opportunity arose. “I have more ideas.”

By JOAN DEMIRJIAN Original article here

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