Glencoe Green Home strives for LEED for Homes Platinum certification

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Architect: Nathan Kipnis Architects

Developer: Scott Simpson Builders

Location: 370 Washington, Glencoe, IL

By Jason LaFleur

With an eye to the future, more homeowners are building green. In the North Shore village of Glencoe, Ill., Barry and Natalie Slotnick are building a resource and energy-efficient single-family home for their growing family, planning to achieve the LEED for Homes Gold certification which may reach into LEED for Homes Platinum. The home is intelligently designed by Nathan Kipnis Architects to have minimal environmental impact by reducing energy needs and incorporating two types of solar energy systems. The home is being built by Scott Simpson Builders, who previously constructed a LEED-certified home in Wilmette, Ill.

The Slotnicks are building on a vacant infill lot near downtown Glencoe, meaning that there was no existing home to tear down, and they could start fresh. Yet they are remaining sensitive to the surrounding community with their new home. As homeowner Barry Slotnick describe it, “Our goal in building the Glencoe Green Home is to demonstrate that the environmental impact of a home can be decreased substantially with smart environmental design features and fixtures, while still creating a beautiful traditional home that will maintain the character of the community.”

While the Village of Glencoe does not offer any incentives for building green, that did not deter the Slotnicks.

“As one of the first LEED homes on the North Shore, we know the home will attract attention and hopefully encourage others, both individuals and municipalities, to incorporate sustainable elements in their homes and buildings,” Barry Slotnick said.

Complementing the traditional architectural influences, the home features remarkable green design features, underscoring how successful green building often includes a comprehensive, integrated plan early in the design process that can achieve multiple benefits. For example, the building has two south-facing roof areas that are set at two specific angles to optimize solar benefits. A steeper roof section is designed for solar thermal panels, which heat the domestic hot water and radiant floor systems. This steeper roof angle is optimized for the low winter sun. The second south-facing roof is much shallower, optimized for the high angle of the summer sun, which maximizes the output from solar electric photovoltaic (PV) panels to offset peak summer electricity. These two types of solar panels will significantly reduce the home’s external natural gas heating and electricity demands.

The two offset roof sections also are used to funnel 40 percent of the rainwater that falls on the roof into a lower roof section containing a vegetative green roof, which doubles as a patio. The green roof will slow rainwater run-off. Any excess will be diverted to modular rainwater storage containers for vegetable gardening and landscape irrigation, with overflow directed to a rain garden at grade.

The home will also include a passive, natural ventilation shaft that, when taken in conjunction with the properly sized solar overhangs and existing shade trees, will enable the home to take advantage of free cooling through natural ventilation.

Following the LEED for Homes guidelines, in addition to outdoor water efficiency, the home will use water-efficient indoor pluming fixtures. The Slotnicks chose to add low-flow shower heads (<1.75 gpm), dual-flush toilets and even decided to include a waterless urinal.

The home has been built with pre-fabricated framing panels assembled off-site in nearby Zion, Ill., and shipped to the site, which significantly reduced construction waste and installation time. The home will be insulated with closed-cell spray foam insulation to provide a very high insulation value and excellent resistance to air infiltration. Long roof overhangs, large windows and sliding glass doors combine to create “passive solar” architecture – lighting, heating and cooling the home naturally, which will further reduce the need to run the mechanical systems and artificial lighting.

As part of the LEED for Homes process, the Slotnick residence will receive a comprehensive energy audit and will go through performance testing of the various systems, such as verification of the air tightness of the home and checking for proper flow rates in the bathroom exhaust fans. This third-party verification will help identify any installation problems and ensure that any issues are corrected by the design and construction team. The non-profit organization Alliance for Environmental Sustainability is serving as the LEED for Homes Provider on the project, facilitating the certification process. The field verification and testing will be performed by the LEED for Homes Green Rater, Helios Design + Build. To learn more about the LEED for Homes process, visit

When asked about the decision to pursue LEED certification, Barry Slotnick responded, “we felt that if we were going to ‘build green’, we wanted to do it according to LEED standards so that, in the end, there would be an independent third-party measuring the level of the home’s efficiency and environmental credibility. Its one thing to claim we have a ‘green home’, yet quite another to say we have a ‘green home that is rated LEED Gold’.”

With the Slotnick residence, Nathan Kipnis Architects, already well known for their innovations in green home design, has added another stellar project to their portfolio, creating a certified green home that may become the envy of the neighborhood. To learn more about the home, visit

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