Once upon a time, two girls had a plan to turn a downtown space into a really cool residence and media headquarters.

It didn’t work. But it did introduce AltDaily to the very forward-thinking team called Green Build It.

John Porter, Nick Shawyer and Lucas Doan of Green Build It are young and cosmopolitan and exactly the kind of guys that you can trust to build you a modern, green space. At 427-429 Granby (the aforementioned downtown space which is now happily in the hands of GROW Interactive), the guys impressed us at first meeting by simply sharing our excitement about the building’s hidden-jewel quality. They knew as certainly as my former partner and I did that underneath the exterior white facade and the ’80s era drop ceilings inside, a beautiful “old Norfolk” building was hiding. Within a few hours in the place, Nick was exploring and crawling through the rafters, while John was carefully climbing onto the roof; both discovering the possibilities.

In the early process of the build-out, the team proposed innovative solutions that suited our contemporary tastes and a tight price point. A green roof, skylights, sliding walls and a floating mezzanine were all on the table. Had it worked out, I’m certain Green Build It would’ve completed a space worthy of dwell magazine.

Their other spaces indeed are. Green Build It is in fact responsible for the first residential home in Hampton Roads to receive LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It is also one of only 13 homes in Virginia to achieve LEED certification. (This standard signifies a rigorous process through which a property is proven through inspections and rating to be energy and water efficient and environmentally sound.)

The property–located at 1434 Lead St. in the Bruce’s Park neighborhood of Norfolk near Broad Creek–was built using waste-reducing techniques and low VOC (volatile organic compounds) finishes and paints. It is well insulated with environmentally friendly spray foam and cellulose insulation; low-e argon windows; high efficiency lighting; and a free energy ventilation system that circulates fresh air throughout the home with high grade filtration to remove allergens. Water-wise, it features a pervious driveway to reduce rainwater runoff, low-flow water fixtures, dual flush toilets and drought resistant landscaping. Overall the home is 31 percent more energy efficient than the average.

The most important feature–at least for the homeowner, anyway–the house is totally affordable. With 1700 square feet and LEED Gold Certification, it went for a mere $181,000.

“We built the home using an integrated approach,” says John, “and the LEED Gold Certification validates our belief that a well designed, green home can be affordable to the average American.”

Not content to rest on their laurels, this week, Green Build It is debuting a home in the Park Place neighborhood, where they hope to revive the sleepy urban community with the same groundbreaking green design that they employed at 1434 Lead. As you approach the residence from Colonial Avenue, its design strikes you immediately as special and yet totally integrated into the neighborhood. With an outdoor plunge pool, though, the place cannot but stand out–even with its raised porch that’s less about purpose than fitting in with the surrounding homes.

Inside the three-bedroom, three-bathroom home, you’re met with a very modern feel–and with glass walls and concrete floors, the place could feel cold and uninviting. It doesn’t. The insulation system was built using similar techniques as 1434 Lead. Also keeping it warm (and cool in the summer, in fact) is the window technology, which considers solar studies and wind patterns to dictate its design. The water system, the first of its kind to be installed in Hampton Roads, uses 100 percent cold water from the street, which is then run through a hybrid electric water heater and smaller piping. It is 67 percent more efficient than your average system. The electricity, which runs on a mini-split system, is also smaller and more efficient, with one outdoor and two indoor units. What would typically run 180 amps, Green Build It has down to a 20-amp circuit.

Aside from all that, the house is gorgeous. From its flush walls, uninterrupted by door frames, to its gabled ceilings and luxurious deck off the master bedroom, the residence is absolutely fit for a dwell magazine spread. The backsplash wall in the kitchen adds an elegant element of color. The one-car garage–complete with its own bathroom, cable, water heater, and loft space–is a perfect place for a “man-cave.” And ladies: the dual rain and mist shower in the master bedroom, which adjoins a spacious walk-in closet, is to die for. Whitney Hausmann, the homeowner, and her little puppy are certainly loving life at at 439 W. 30th.

Green Build It is offering a tour of the home this Friday evening from 4 to 7 pm. The event is free and open to the public (and we hear it will also have catering and a dj, so obviously we’re there). For more information, contact john@greenbuildit.com, call 757.450-4303, or just show up at 439 W

30th (on the corner of 30th and Colonial). And for a sneak peek, check out more photos of the home by Eric Fadden in this slideshow.

Words: Hannah Serrano
Photos: Eric Fadden
Alt Daily: Thursday, April 22nd, 2010 at 7:35 am

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