Page E4.3. 04 November 2009                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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    Green House in Georgia


    According to Cain, preserving the existing house wasn't an option. "The original house on site was built on alluvial material and had settled, so we couldn't rely on that foundation," he says. Site crews cleared down about three additional feet (one meter) to achieve stability. Granite from that site clearing and from well-digging was broken and distributed under the decks as groundcover.

    The blue tarp that shrouded the site for months was cause for great curiosity. It was a strategy the contractor arrived at to satisfy a LEED requirement regarding degradation of UV-sensitive materials — in this case, exposed wood framing. "[The USGBC] suggests protecting such materials by priming and finishing in less than a week," Cain explains. "Our alternative was the tarp."

    Committed to Green

    Cain said his clients' commitment to sustainable design made the Platinum rating possible.

    "The three things that I love to put in houses — daylight, sustainable features and reclaimed material — they were totally behind that from the start," he says. "It was a lot easier; we didn't have to sell them, we just had to investigate the economics of each one of those decisions. If we could fit it into their budget, then they were very accepting of those directions. "

    He adds that similar results can be achieved in smaller homes on smaller budgets, starting with careful site design, building orientation, and passive solar devices, along with high-efficiency heat pumps and judicious choices of materials. "I've done it with other houses," Cain says. "You can do easily do a very sustainable house on a very limited budget."

    Lisa Ashmore is a freelance writer based in Atlanta, Georgia, and is senior editor at Agnes Scott College.   More by Lisa Ashmore

    Project Credits

    Project: RainShine House, Decatur, Georgia
    Architect: Robert M. Cain, Architect (Atlanta)
    Civil Engineer: Alexander Engineering, PC (Atlanta)
    Contractor: Pinnacle Custom Builders, Inc. (Decatur, Georgia)
    LEED Consultant: Southface Institute (Atlanta)
    Landscape Designer: L.F. Saussy Landscape Architects (Decatur)
    MEP/ Geoexchange Engineer: Don Easson, PE, LLC (Bluffton, South Carolina)
    Structural Engineer: Jack L. Bell, PE (Roswell, Georgia)
    Rainwater Harvest System: Raincatchers (McDonough, Georgia)
    HVAC/ Geoexchange: Premier Indoor Comfort Systems LLC (Ball Ground, Georgia)
    Geoexchange Well Drilling: James Cook GeoLoop, Inc. (Hampton, Georgia)
    Photovoltaics: Solar Sun World, LLC (Madison, Georgia)

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...


    ArchWeek Image

    A variety of constraints, including stream buffer requirements and a sewer easement, limited the buildable footprint on the RainShine lot.
    Photo: Paul Hultberg Photography Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    The spacious master bedroom of RainShine House.
    Photo: Paul Hultberg Photography Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    RainShine House upper-floor plan and section through the living room, looking west.
    Image: Robert M. Cain, Architect Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    RainShine House basement floor plan with MEP overlays.
    Image: Robert M. Cain, Architect Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    An irregularly shaped screened porch cantilevers from the front corner of the living room.
    Photo: Paul Hultberg Photography Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Stainless-steel downspouts frame the entry of RainShine House.
    Photo: Paul Hultberg Photography Extra Large Image


    Click on thumbnail images
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