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Sustainable Design: Proud Green Home of Louisville

May 1, 2017

The Proud Green Home of Louisville certainly lives up to its name.

Designed by its builder to reflect a socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative approach to home building, the home known as Su Verde, or "About Green" in Italian, is a sustainable, high performance home that will earn certification from multiple green building organizations.

From the choice of location to the Biophilia design philosophy, to the latest in building science, the home in Norton Commons reflects the passions of the builder, Sy Safi of UberGreen Spaces & Homes, and the architect, Clive Pohl of Pohl Rosa Pohl to build a home they would be proud to live in, and offer to a buyer.

Sustainable Location

Norton Commons is an urban, mixed-use development in Louisville, Kentucky, consisting of approximately 600 acres and space for about 3,000 homes and 560,000square feet of commercial space.

Based in New Urbanism, the development focused on green spaces, civic use in the neighborhood, and communal shared spaces here in the mixed-use development.

As a development philosophy, New Urbanism focuses on the creation and the restoration of communities that are diverse, walkable, and foster a sense of sustainability and community in an integrated style, according to Marilyn Osborn Patterson, general counsel and director of marketing for Norton Commons.

"This type of development hasn’t been done in America for the past 50 years or so," Patterson said. "People are thirsting for sustainable living, and New Urban communities, because everything is walkable, is at its very basic level a convenient way to live. Because of the way the community is laid out and designed these people interact with each other on a regular basis, which really fosters a social aspect that you don’t get in typical suburban neighborhoods."

Design Philosophy

Safi incorporated Biophilia design principles, which are based on human's innate tendency to focus on life and life-like processes.

"To the degree that we understand other organisms, where we have a natural love of life and the living world, there is this connection to nature and other living things has become a critical to human comfort," he said.

Biophilic design is incorporated in this home with the many indoor/outdoor connections to nature through the patios and decks.

"We also have artwork and installations mimicking nature inside the home," Safi added.

The home encourages fitness with stairs in lieu of an elevator, multiple outdoor spaces for gardening, yoga, exercise, an urban neighborhood that is pedestrian friendly with sidewalks, access to parks, pools, restaurants, retail, a YMCA, and places of work to encourage people-powered transportation via foot or bike and be less dependent on automobiles.

The home also encourages sustainable nourishment with multiple outdoor spaces for organic gardening, dense vertical farming and composting with Garden Towers by the Garden Tower Project.

While the home was on public display it attracted a wide range of interest, often from people simply drawn in by the unique design approach.

"I think about how much heart goes into a project because of a person’s passion about it. That heart re-radiates when the project is complete," Pohl said. "Passerbys, who know nothing about the individuals involved, perceive the passion that went into the home."

Sustainable Choices

The commitment to building sustainably can take many paths. Resource efficiency and renewable energy are obvious choices. But every product, every building technique can make an impact on the home's capability for healthy living and long-term environmental impact.

The interior design by architect Clive Pohl and interior designer Sandra Perry of Honest Home incorporates the psychology of colors to promote optimism, hope,encourage relaxation and lowers anxiety, the clean lines and minimizing clutter helps relax your mind and open it to more creativity and less anxiety.

Interior designer Perry Home, brought in countertops made from lumber reclaimed from a local warehouse that was being razed. Then, the wood was topped with Vermont Natural Coating poly-whey finish, made from discarded cheese whey from Vermont.

"We don’t have to worry about it off-gassing and affecting our health, and there are no formaldehydes either," Perry said. "It seals as well as other finishes that you might have used in the past."

The goal is to use "super local” whenever possible to "keep the money in the community and help keep stuff out of the landfill at the same time, and all the while being responsible for everyone’s health," Perry said.

Perry praised the kitchen design by Pohl, an efficient design that provides all the space needed but is not excessively large.

"You don’t have to run to the other side of the kitchen to reach the oven, or run to the other side to empty the dishwasher, it's super efficient," she said.

The kitchen also features Energy Star rated appliances by GE Monogram, and locally sourced wood cabinets.

The cabinets were made by Blue River Cabinetry, located about a 25 minute drive fro the home, using Columbia Forest Products. These wood products have no added formaldehydes, containing only what is natural to the wood.

"It’s been really popular with our customers, especially ones that have health issues and can’t be exposed to formaldehydes at all, "Perry said.

The cabinets were also finished with Vermont Natural Coating poly-whey.

ECO countertops by Cosentino were used throughout the home. These features are made from recycled glass, porcelain and mirrors, and is scorch and scratch resistant, impermeable and requires no maintenance.

Hardwood floors were made from reclaimed Kentucky horse farm fencing for hardwood floors by Longwood Antique Woods throughout. Reclaimed Kentucky barn wood was used for the columns, beams, breakfast bar, mirrors, shelves and office/study built-ins by Rework Collective to preserve pieces of the state's history and repurpose wood that could end up burned or in a landfill.

Tile flooring came from Florida Tile, made locally in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, which as approximately 50 percent recycled content.

Exterior bricks were another locally sourced product. Boral supplied more than 35,000 Vintage Port bricks from the Terre Haute Collection, made at its Terre Haute, Indiana, manufacturing facility. It's the only brick plant in the United States to receive the LEED Gold certification in recognition of the plant’s use of methane gas from a nearby landfill as an alternative fuel source and its status as a zero-waste operation in which nearly all materials used are recycled into new brick, and shale used in the manufacturing process is reclaimed from a nearby coal mining property.

Building with Beauty

One of the certification programs, the Living Building Challenge, recognizes the need for beauty as a core part of life and the places we live in. Extending the concept of beauty, projects are meant to inspire others within a region and community.

The Living Building Challenge requires that at least one team member on the project have a JUST label.  JUST is an innovative social justice label and transparencyplatform, established by the Institute, for organizations. The Institute hopes that JUST will mark a new era of corporate transparency, and invites organizations everywhere to evaluate themselves through its social justice and equity lens.

Part of the inspiration from the Living Building Challenge comes from active efforts to educate others about the decisions made for the project and its aspirations, motivations and design. Designing features in a home intended solely for human delight allows people to love the home and take care of it.

"Many architectural features designed by architect Clive Pohl have made this home garner wide spread approval and love from all of its guests," Safi said.


Topics: Appliances, Bathroom, Building Green, Certification / LEED, Cost of Ownership, Energy Recovery & Heat Recovery, Energy Star, Exteriors, Flooring, Geothermal Heating & Cooling, Going Green, Healthy Homes, Home Design & Plans, Indoor Air Quality, Insulated Concrete Forms - ICF, Insulation, Interior Design, Kitchen, Paint | Low VOC and No VOC, Plumbing & Fixtures, Proud Green Home of Louisville, Sustainability Trends & Statistics, Sustainable Communities, Thermal Envelope, Ventilation, Water Filtration & Water Quality, Water Heaters, Water Saving Devices, WaterSense

Companies: Aeroseal, Bradford White Water Heaters, CertainTeed, Kohler, Enertech Global, LLC, GeoComfort Geothermal Systems, Zehnder America, Huber Engineered Woods, STEP Warmfloor


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