Hey folksies,

Here’s a great example of a holistic green building effort that I am fortunate enough to be involved with!!!  It’s the E2 City Homes by The Urban Project and will be one of the first LEED Homes in Moneysota.  LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is third party certified by the US Green Building Council, (whom I design graphic presentations for).  If you don’t know about LEED or the USGBC, I highly recommend you take a couple minutes to get acquainted…. Anyway, on with the show!… let’s talk E2!

From the get go, Nate Smith and Tom Menke (two of the coolest cats Minneapolis can offer) of The Urban Project followed the rigorous LEED standards. They selected an infill site that had already been developed, so it wouldn’t put any pressure on developing a new infrastructure.  The site was also close to public transit and parks, both of which are rewarded with LEED points.  They also decided to build the homes with ICFs (Insulated Concrete Forms) which act as a much more efficient thermal barrier and use less natural resources than traditional wood framing.  ICF’s are pretty damn sturdy too… Tornado??? Ha!…bring it on!

Another really cool feature developed in the E2 was the use of Geothermal heating/cooling.  A common-sense source of clean energy, geothermal pulls energy from deep underground (8 wells were drilled about 160 ft deep), where the temp is a constant 52 degrees here in MN.  Like a cave, the temp from the earth is warmer than the air in the winter and cooler in the summer.  This system is projected to run at less than $200/yr per unit for heating and cooling!!!!

Geothermal setup

Moving indoors…. this is where I got involved… with a super efficient building envelope, we wanted to bring in cool eco-technologies and products to complete the green package.  To start, the homes are very water efficient.  We utilized TOTO dual-flush toilets, low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators (two super cheap and easy things to minimize water consumption).

We also used a lot of sustainable materials inside… We rocked a fused bamboo floor, cork in the kitchen, concrete countertops, high-recycled content carpet from ToMarket, Energy Star appliances and lighting, zero-VOC Sherwin Williams ‘Harmony’ paints, Forest Stewardship Council certified woods, bamboo and 2nd hand furnishings and eco-friendly cabinets… Here’s a shot of a kitchen I worked on….

Here are mas picturas to check out….


Also worth mentioning, the landscaping is primarily draught-tolerant and native plants (which minimizes water use)….

So you’re probably thinking that with all of additional features the cost to build and purchase one of these bad boys has got to be pretty high….well oh contrair bonjour!  It is almost dollar for dollar with traditional construction methods.  Each unit, with 2 beds and 2 1/2 baths is on the market for about $260k, or $160/sq ft, finished!!!  Pretty damn tough to beat!… Now think about the residual effect… the money saved from its efficiencies over a period of 20 to 50 years.  We’re talking $100k in your pocket!

Obviously I was pumped to be involved in this project… It’s a great case study on green building done right.  Right now we’re doing the certification paperwork, trying to get it to LEED Gold…. For more info on this project and others, check out my personal website:  Thrive Design Studio.

-metro hippie out

About Joshua Foss

Joshua is a leading voice for transformational change. He is the editor of Metro Hippie, co-founder and director of development of the Ecala Group, and adjunct faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He is also an ambassador for the Living Building Challenge and is a frequent speaker at national conferences, trade shows and summits.