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Habitat for Humanity takes the LEED

Habitat for Humanity of Summit and Wasatch Counties is in the LEED.

The United States Green Building Councils presented nonprofit organization’s most recently completed energy efficient home located at 156 Marsac Avenue a LEED Platinum Certification during a ceremony Thursday morning.

A LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification recognizes that a building or neighborhood is environmentally friendly, and a Platinum Certification is the highest level any building can receive from the organization, said Alan Agle, a registered LEED Green Associate, who presented the award.

"It’s an incredible accomplishment to see not just a certified LEED building, but a Platinum Certified LEED home," Agle said during the small ceremony held at the upper Sandridge parking lot across the street from the award-winning home. "As you look at the building, you will notice, although it’s been raining for two-and-a-half days, there is no rainwater running off into the street. The house is xeriscaped and will need none of Park City’s precious and scarce irrigation water and it will put no water in the storm system. It’s totally self-contained."

When Habitat for Humanity decided last year to register two projects on Marsac Avenue to be eligible for the LEED, Schneider reached out to Agle.

"I got a phone call from someone, a person I didn’t know, who worked for a nonprofit organization that I had heard of," Agle said. "She said, ‘We’re building a house and we have an incredible program with a sense of purpose. We also think we should build the house green.’

"I said, ‘I think that’s a great augmentation of your mission to not only build a home to house a family, but to also build it the way it should be built with reduced expenses and reduced impact on the city,’" Agle said. "From there, Lisa did the exploration, put together a construction committee and did everything we suggested."

Schneider said the project, let alone the award, could not have happened without the team that included Habitat for Humanity’s board of directors, New Star Construction, Archiplex Architects, the Salt Lake Community College Construction Trade Program, Park City Municipal who donated the land and many others in the community.

"Habitat can build houses and that’s what we’re good at and we’re getting better," she said. "We want to build durable, long-lasting affordable houses that are energy efficient for our homeowners."

The Marsac house is 52 percent more energy efficient than a conventionally constructed home, Schneider said.

Every light bulb is either a compact fluorescent light (CFL) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and the furnace and hot water tank operate under a "sealed combustion" system that draws air from outside and the gasses are then rerouted outside when the operation is done. Also, the water system works on lower flow volumes, according to Habitat for Humanity.

"During construction, there was minimal waste in building the house," Schneider said. "Virtually nothing left over from the house went into a landfill. It was sorted and was given to an unnamed Park City resident and dumpster diver."

Billy Giblin, a homes provider and green rater, said the award for the Marsac home was based on everything from design to site selection.

"We looked at how the house was built and what took place during the steps along the way," he said. "The impressive thing with this home is that it’s the third LEED platinum home in the state of Utah, one is located here in Silver Creek and the other is in Eden, but this is the first LEED Habitat for Humanity platinum home on Earth.

"What is remarkable about the house is that it accomplished this without any renewable energy," Giblin said. "This house is a testament of the commitment everyone did to make it happen."

Bob Lurker, associate dean of technical specialties Salt Lake Community College, whose students in the construction program built the house, said working on a LEED certified home was a wonderful opportunity.

"It fits right in the curriculum and Habitat was great to work with us, because it aligned right up with the schedule for our students and fulfilled their need for the program," he said. "It also gave them an opportunity to provide a service at the same time.

"Also, not a lot of students have a LEED platinum award project they can put on their resumés," he said.

Glenn Wright, vice-chairman of the Habitat for Humanity of Summit and Wasatch Counties board, said creating a tight house wasn’t enough to become LEED certified.

"One of the things we had to do to was to seal up every nook and cranny after the construction was done," Wright said. "We had volunteers crawling around with caulk guns and sealant for hours after the framing was completed to fill in these holes.

"We didn’t set out to be LEED Platinum, but we just did a lot of the right things and it happened."

Lisa Laswell, moved into the Marsac home on July 15, said the first thing she noticed were the utility-bill payments.

"They are low across the board, and in terms of what they’ve done in the construction is that the insulation is definitely top notch," she said. "It’s just starting to get cold, but we can tell a difference.

"Also, as you can see, I live on a busy street, but when the windows are closed, you don’t hear the traffic," she said.

"We want to do more of this," Schneider said. "This is how Park City should be building and this is how Habitat is committed to build housing that is affordable for the long-term viability for this community. Let’s do more."

For more information about Habitat for Humanity Summit and Wasatch Counties, visit http://www.habitat-utah.org.


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