Greenarama home show first for region

| by Teena Hammond
Greenarama home show first for region

Five Cincinnati builders have teamed together to produce the region's first green home show.

One of Cincinnati's oldest neighborhoods, the Columbia Tusculum, is the site of Greenarama this weekend, June 24-26, with seven townhouse-style homes and an exhibit house in an urban setting. Each home is pursuing LEED certification and showcases some of the green features available in sustainable homebuilding from geothermal and spray foam insulation to Energy Star appliances and energy-efficient windows and doors.

The show began last weekend, with more than 4,000 people attending. Even more are expected this weekend.

Pinnacle Custom Building Group built a 2,400-square-foot home for Greenarama that recently sold for $439,900. The home features open-cell spray foam insulation, a 93 percent efficient programmable gas furnace, low-flow faucets, rain barrels for water reuse and energy-efficient appliances. "Energy bills in this house are less than $150 per month," said Brad Olinger, partner and member of Pinnacle.

The size of the house can affect which green features to include in the most cost-effective manner.

"We could have installed geothermal, but it is a $10,000 to $15,000 upgrade and you would only save $30 to $40 a month in utility bills in this size of a house, so your payback is hard to get in this small of a house," Olinger said.

Olinger said that he and the other four builders came together to produce Greenarama about a year and a half ago. "We wanted to help make the public aware of the tax abatement and the building opportunities in the area. So all five builders came together and came up with a couple of ideas to promote those items and, for the last year and half, the five builders have met weekly to figure out all the logistics to put on the show." Olinger was referring to the 15-year, $500,000 tax abatement that each home is eligible to receive.

The five builders participating are:

  • AndrewJames Builders
  • Black Diamond Construction
  • Carroll Custom Builders
  • Mann Daly Homes by Osterfeld Construction
  • Pinnacle Custom Building Group

James Van Curen, co-owner of AndrewJames Builders, said that his company built two of the homes in the show. "We put geothermal in both of our homes. We did as a backup a gas high efficiency furnace as opposed to the electric resistant backup so it's a little more efficient when they get to that mode in the wintertime."

He said that many people think the home will be different in appearance because it's energy efficient.

"I think people are almost kind of excited that they walk into it and think it might be a strange house, but it looks like a normal house. Then you explain that green means components of the house and also that you bought things that are locally produced so that you're not using a lot of miles to get things here. And I think people understand the lower cost in utility bills. That is blowing people away. Our geothermal system to heat and cool the house has been giving us an average monthly cost of $84 on average," Van Curen said.

One of the keys of building green is education. Van Curen said it's a continual learning process, even for builders. "We're still researching and finding avenues for products and it's getting suppliers to do the same thing."

Andrew Riffe, who co-owns AndrewJames Builders with Van Curen, said the purpose of developing the show was, "we wanted to find an opportunity as builders who build green to educate the public to the benefits of that, and to show them there wasn't any compromise. "

Riffe said, "a lot of people think about green building and think it's all solar panels and windmills. We wanted to show that these homes can look contemporary and craftsman. And still be LEED certified, be green, and be geothermal so they're less expensive to own and operate."

The plan seems to be paying off, Riffe said. "We've now sold every home in the show but one, not counting the exhibit house. We sold two this past week."

A slideshow of additional images shows interiors and exteriors of some of the Greenarama homes.

Topics: Appliances, Building Green, Certification / LEED, Heating & Cooling, Insulation

Teena Hammond
Teena Hammond has published more than 2,000 articles in People and W magazines, Women's Wear Daily, and in dozens of newspapers and books. She also wrote a home improvement, remodeling and decor column that ran in Gannett newspapers nationwide. She's interested in all things green and would love to hear from you with your story ideas.

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