D.C. Townhouse Packs in Green Features

My wife, Julie, is an environmental policy researcher and I am a partner at istudiodesign, a Washington, D.C.-based collaboration of architects, designers, and planners dedicated to the design of livable, sustainable communities. We chose this house, our first, for sustainable reasons. Our commitment to energy conservation and environmental responsibility led us to explore locations with amenities as well as public transportation. Our neighborhood, Glover Park, is a leafy enclave developed in the early twentieth century. We walk to the grocery store, shops and restaurants daily. To get to work we take the bus or ride bikes. We use the Metro to get around town for meetings, errands, and social activities.

Julie and I renovated this 1939 townhouse with sensitivity to both context and environment. The design was inspired by early modern design to respect the period of the house and accommodate our desire for a clean, simple look and lifestyle. All materials and methods were chosen for their sustainable properties. Just choosing an existing house to renovate instead of building new meant avoiding added materials and waste.

Owners: Julie and Rick Schneider
Size: 1,600 square feet
Environmental features:

  • Low-VOC paints on the walls and water-borne sealers on the floors ensure healthy air quality in the home and minimal impact on the environment.
  • Much of the cabinetry and furniture are made of formaldehyde-free particleboard and sustainably harvested wood.
  • Window treatments and a canopy at the south side minimize glare and solar gain.
    Cross-ventilation is maximized through opposing windows.

  • An attic fan pulls cool air in on lower floors and vents warm air above.
  • Ceiling fans provide isolated cooling.
  • A covered porch on north side is treated as a functioning outdoor room for three seasons.
  • Air conditioning is only available in the bedrooms as a backup for unusually hot summer nights.
  • Low-flow showerheads and a highly efficient dishwasher cut back on water consumption.
  • Landscaping is indigenous, with little or no watering required.
  • A portion of the roof is planted with hardy plants and engineered soil to reduce storm water runoff and the heat island effect.
  • All appliances are Energy-star rated.
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs minimize energy consumption.
  • A compost bin in the garden turns organic waste into nutrient-rich soil.
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