Environment
2:22 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Builder Hopes Sustainable Home Will Be a Model for Future Houses

Construction is finished on what could be the most sustainable home in the city, and  the home builder hopes to re-create his sustainable house in other areas.

Sy Safi’s model home is just outside the Gene Snyder Freeway, near Fern Creek. It looks like most of the other houses in this partially-finished subdivision. But Safi’s home is different.

He takes me on a tour. This house is designed to use less energy than a typical home and uses insulation and a tight building envelope to contain leaks. The home’s walls and foundation are made out of insulated concrete form walls that use concrete and rebar to create the structure. Safi says they provide extra insulation for the home, as well as extra strength.

“So now I’ve got a wall that is so many times stronger than a typical wood wall, it will withstand upwards of 200 mile per hour winds,” he said.

The home is net-zero, which means it produces as much energy as it uses through an array of solar panels on the roof. There are solar tubes to let in natural light, and an electric car charger in the garage. Safi installed energy efficient appliances, and most of the materials are reclaimed and sourced locally.

And whenever possible, Safi incorporated toxin-free building materials. He says that will help keep the air inside free of toxic chemicals like volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.

“The EPA estimates that our indoor air quality is two to ten times worse than it is outside. And this has a lot to do with different things we deal with in a home. It could be a leaky home, it could be a home that has a lot of toxins in it.”

Because there are toxins in most furniture too, Safi incorporated drywall that actually absorbs and sequesters VOCs that might be in the air. And he says most of this can be done for the same price as a comparable home in the area: about $279,000. Extra features add on about $110,000 to that.

Safi is also pursuing LEED platinum certification for the home. This one’s already sold, but he hopes to build more in the area, soon.