You can learn a lot from a house, especially the Cooking Light FitHouse in Chicago. This home is full of environmentally friendly (and dare we say, even responsible) features planned into the construction. Step inside this green living house and come out with some good ideas for your own home.
While we all can’t live in the heart of town, look for a location where you easily walk or ride a bike to the grocery store or local restaurants and shops. If you’re just going a few blocks, leave the car in the driveway. This house is located roughly two miles from downtown Chicago and close to mass transit (the “El”).
When making selections, keep with the green-building idea of using materials that can be sourced within a 500-mile range of your home. Look for locally quarried limestone and marble rather than having it transported in.
Look for low- or no-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints, flooring, cabinetry, and insulation. These will not release significant toxins into the air, which could be harmful and cause breathing problems.
Air filters help to remove some of the pollutants in the air, but there are new filters that remove 99% of allergens from the air. This house has multizoned thermostats so the system can maximize efficiency as heating and cooling needs change from floor to floor.
Note: Trane CleanEffects air cleaning system was used in the FitHouse.
Regulate water heating to help save energy. In this house, as the demand fluctuates, a processor regulates the amount of water being heated by a high-efficiency, ENERGY STAR qualified boiler. Storage tanks recirculate the hot water, allowing the boiler to turn on less often.
Besides being some of the most energy efficient available, they also seal out noise.
Although the roof of the FitHouse may look like slate, it’s actually made of recycled industrial rubber and plastic. (Note: This is the rooftop terrace. But you have to admit, it's prettier than the actual roof.)
Ordinary studs -- supports that hold up interior walls -- are set flush against exterior walls. Here, the studs are offset half an inch, leaving room for insulation between studs and the exterior walls. This extra insulation maximizes heating and cooling efforts to keep your bills low.
Clerestory windows help provide natural light, which floods from the penthouse down the staircase to the floors below. The more natural daylight you have, the less electric light you need.
Rooftop landscaping provides extra insulation, absorbs rainwater, and reduces reflected sunlight.