An untrained eye might not notice anything different at first about the house nestled into a Jeremy Ranch neighborhood, nothing beyond the clean, modern lines and the slight difference in materials compared to the other houses on the street. But when homebuilder Jeremy Pack sees his own handiwork, the house he designed and constructed, he sees much more.
Pack completed the home two months ago built to LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, standards, one of the most rigorous green building techniques and implements measurable green design, construction and maintenance. Using a points system, everything from square footage to utilities to landscaping is graded.
"LEED came out of the commercial world," Pack said. "It's the most well known and comprehensive third-party green rating system. There are others, but this is the most difficult."
Pack, a Park City resident for 20 years, created his own home design and building company, MTN Builders, in 2005. But he didn't start looking into LEED building standards until last year. But LEED is where he's taking the business, offering anything from consultations to building from the ground up.
The home is in the process of receiving its LEED certification, a process that can take several weeks to months after the construction is complete.
"You have all these different people checking your work," Pack said. "The way I explain it to clients is that building to code, we consider that a C-, just the minimum amount to pass. Everything we do over and above is not required by any city government or municipality. That's why green is better, better quality, better safety, better durability."
Once you know, the meticulous details hidden in the façade of a home start to become obvious. Suddenly, the thickness of the walls seems more pronounced. The choice in plants is a natural fit with the climate. Recycled materials are easier to spot, the reclaimed woods and polished glass. The house itself looks different from the other houses street, a fact Pack prides himself on.
"We had to differentiate ourselves, build products that were more than the traditional way of doing things," he said.
"I want to facilitate a change," he added. "There are still a lot of houses that are being built that look the same, the same gable roof, the same stucco. I want to see more creativity."
The inspiration to go green followed the housing market crash a few years ago. MTN Builders went from building half a dozen or more homes a year to only one or two, a hit that gave him the push to start thinking differently. LEED was his answer, building the types of homes that are rare in any neighborhood, but especially in the Park City area.
With two homes completed to LEED standards and a renovation underway in Old Town, Pack hopes to keep the momentum up. It may be a rigorous process everything from the toilets to the ventilation system was carefully considered in his past projects but it's worth doing, especially in any new construction, he said.
"Green could mean anything," Pack added. "You could put a high-efficiency light bulb in your house and call it green. That's one end of the spectrum. At the other far end, there's LEED."
For what he estimates to be an 8 percent increase in the total price, a newly constructed home could be LEED certified, a cost he said is well worth it when considering the savings on utilities and the improved quality of the construction. And though getting 20-year-veterans of home construction, his homebuilding crew, up to speed with all the extra steps involved with LEED standards had its challenges for Pack, it's been well worth it, he said.
"As far as green homes go, it's the wave of the future," Pack added. "It's hip, but it also makes sense because all a green home is, really, is building a better home. That's what it really is."
8855 Jeremy Point