Three-Unit Multifamily Residential Reputable/Replicable New Construction: 2020 Green Dream

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

2020 W. Rice, Chicago, IL 60662 Map

Private Residences

Wolbrink Architects Chartered

2020 W. Rice

2020 W. Rice

2020 Green Dream is a 3-unit, 5,700 sf multifamily residence built as a speculative, for-sale development. This project exemplifies a straightforward, reasonable-cost approach to green that should be replicable by other for-profit developments. All units are Energy Star rated and the architect recently won a GreenWorks Award for market transformation in green building.

The project includes many of the typical features expected on a small green development: compact fluorescent lighting, low-VOC paints, recycled-content carpet, sustainably harvested flooring, locally manufactured materials, etc. The outdoor patio has permeable pavers and the garage has a green roof. It’s also nice how the building design respects the neighboring buildings, with a two-story gabled front elevation (matching the neighbors) and the more modern third floor set back a bit – this is atypical in speculative development that often seeks to maximize floor area.

Mechanical equipment is high-efficiency forced-air – nothing exotic, but paired with a well-insulated, tightly sealed envelope (cellulose insulation here), this is the starting point for an energy-efficient home. Unfortunately in Chicago we have many new entrants to the green building world that are excited about ‘green bling’ but overlook these basics – one reason this project is deserving of a market transformation award. Ironically, the attention to detail is more common on affordable housing projecs (which typically have many interested parties and government oversight).

The project’s most unusual feature is custom-designed aluminum sandwich panels used on the side elevations. These non-load bearing panels fit between masonry piers and were fabricated in a shop and set in place as a complete piece. This is an interesting approach toward both achieving a quality envelope and making the building easy to modify over time. Shop fabrication generally improves construction quality – one reason modular or prefab construction is often presented as green, and this is a start to that. If windows are to be relocated or added in the future, panels can simply be removed which is much simpler than modifying a masonry structure.

Other project team members included home energy rater Informed Energy Decisions, general contractor Wolbrink Assemblers, Inc. and Terrace & Garden Landscapes.

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