The Williams-York Residence in Leawood, KS has recently been certified LEED Platinum, the highest certification level from LEED for Homes by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).
The Williams-York family lived in their ranch style home for 28 years before they decided to build their dream home with abundant natural lighting and an open, usable floor plan.
The old ranch home was deconstructed, a process that involves carefully removing and sorting all reusable or recyclable materials, such as windows, doors, cabinets, trim, flooring, roof tiles, lighting and bricks. Even the foundation walls, brick chimney and basement slab were pulverized and later used as backfill drainage for the new residence. This process resulted in 80% of materials being reused or recycled, and not sent to landfills; and the owners were able to claim tax credits for the process, resulting in a lower cost than had they simply demolished the existing structure.
The new residence, designed by DA+UD and built by Homoly Construction, is a highly energy efficient home with many “green” elements, consisting of its design, its building materials and its appliances and fixtures.
The residence utilizes a passive solar design for heating. This “passive” system takes advantage of natural sunlight in conjunction with the design and positioning of the home to heat the structure without use of mechanical (or “active”) systems. Design elements for the Williams-York residence include a general flow and openness of the main interior spaces to a south-facing solarium whose windows allow natural light to radiate throughout the home, providing year-round ambient lighting and optimizing passive solar heating during the winter. In addition, the foundation consists of a 12” concrete slab which absorbs heat from the sun during the day and radiates that heat into the home at night.
The Williams-York residence has an incredibly tight “envelope” which promotes more comfortable living, energy efficiency and lower heating and cooling costs. Sealing the outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors and floors and adequately insulating a structure is essential to maintaining consistent temperatures and humidity inside and eliminating air leaks, heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. A tight envelope also can reduce heating and cooling costs up to an estimated 20%, according to the US Department of Energy. Structural elements of this include low-emissivity (Low-E) coated windows, which reduce energy loss by ~30-50% via a virtually invisible metal/metallic oxide coating on the glass, and the use of spray foam insulation as well as structural insulated panel systems (SIPs) with a R40 rating for the walls and ceiling.
The high-performance residence also has alternative heating/cooling and power systems. A geothermal heat pump (or ground source heat pump) with de-superheater (for water) was installed, which reduces the amount of energy required to heat or cool the air by using underground temperatures as a regulating source, as well as heat recovery ventilation (HRV), which introduces fresh air to the interior of the residence while maintaining climate control. Installed on the roof is a 4kW photovoltaic (solar array) system to augment the home’s electricity consumption. This solar array consists of solar roofing tile, designed to integrate into the visual aesthetic of the existing shingles.
Other “green” aspects of the residence include native plantings in the surrounding landscape and Energy Star rated appliances and light fixtures throughout the home.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is “an internationally recognized mark of excellence…[that] provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.”
“LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance… in five key areas of human and environmental health”, which are: sustainable site development; water savings; energy efficiency; materials selection; and, indoor environmental quality.
“Why Build LEED?” you might ask. There are environmental and financial incentives to LEED building, such as lower operating costs, reducing landfill waste, conserving energy and water, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, living and working in healthier environments, and receiving tax rebates and zoning allowances in addition to other rebates and credits available throughout the U.S.