The East Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. has something to be proud about, and this time it’s not the historical appeal of the Liberty Bell.
Postgreen, a real estate development company focusing on modern and eco-friendly development in Philadelphia’s urban neighborhoods, recently completed an undertaking called the “100K Project,” two houses that prove that green construction can be affordable if properly designed and executed.
The project’s name came from Postgreen’s target construction cost, consisting of labor and materials only, for the smaller of the two loft townhomes. The larger was actually allotted a $120K target.
According to the project website, the concept behind the 100K house is to offer an affordable home that prioritizes quality, design, energy efficiency, health and sustainability all rolled into one, where cost-effective design translates into the greatest value at the lowest price.
“[The 100K Project] was our very first new construction project and we were trying to do something pretty ambitious, so there was an exceptional amount of pre-construction research and design,” says Nic Darling, Postgreen marketing and public relations.
Instead of focusing on flashy “green” materials, the company spent its money and effort on energy efficiency: insulation, air sealing, windows and thermal bridging reduction. Recycled-content materials and local production were secondary due to their often-prohibitive costs.
Regardless, the final result is certainly an accomplishment, as both homes use half the energy of a new construction code-built home and about a third of the energy of an existing Philly row home.
“[They] took almost 8 months to build total, which felt like quite a long time to us. We have since built homes in half the time,” Darling says.
The 100K blog chronicled the houses’ construction, which evolved into a larger conversation about the way we build and live. The three main contributors are Darling, Postgreen President Chad Ludeman and Postgreen Chief Financial Officer Courtney Ludeman.
During the intensive research and design process, the team was stunned by the U.S.’ limited accessibility of materials and techniques.
“Many of the homes we admire were built in Europe and their performance is greatly aided by available products that we couldn’t get affordably,” Darling remarks. “However, we were also surprised how much we could accomplish with fairly standard, cost-competitive measures after doing the legwork.”
Both finished two-level houses – which are sold, though more are promised – are LEED-certified Platinum and Energy Star-certified. They also feature solar thermal hot water, radiant in-floor heating, rainwater collection, low-flow water appliances and low or no VOC finishes.
Currently, Postgreen is working hard to establish the brand in Philadelphia while actively seeking investment partners to reach a national level of affordable home development.
Darling says that, due to countrywide inquiries, the company would love to find a way to deliver the homes to a wider audience and is open to reader ideas on this topic.
Postgreen also has two more projects in the works, called the Passive Project and the Skinny Project.
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