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A case study of a prize-winning, green Asheville house

By Stephen Beili and Rob Moody on 03/16/2006

Within a week of moving back to Asheville after living elsewhere for 34 years, Stephen Beili saw a lot on the street where his family lived when he was born. The next task was to design a home for himself that incorporated his interest in environmentally-conscious glamour ("ecoglam"). While on Pack Square one day, he met Rob Moody of The EcoBuilders, sitting in his biodiesel truck, and they began to talk about working on the project together.

With Moody’s input on pricing and the potential green aspects of local construction, Beili designed a small, three-story home in the historic district of Montford, full of colorful, open spaces.

Construction began in spring 2005 and was completed in October. The house was entered into the Asheville Home Builders Association Parade of Homes, in which it won a gold award in its price range and a special features award for environmental consciousness and eclectic design.

Information about the home includes:

• Small footprint, 1,400-square-foot home

• Gold rating in the NC HealthyBuilt Homes program of greater Asheville

• An infill development project with a sidewalk that connects the home to the business district, which encourages fewer and shorter automobile trips

• Location in a National Historic District, adding to the rich heritage of the neighborhood

• Invasive trees were removed before construction

• Native, drought-resistant species were planted after construction

• The site was selected and the house was designed to

• fulfill the desire to walk out the front door and to town, and

• give the opportunity to see a backyard forest from the main rooms and the balcony

• Sheet mulching was used to control weeds and erosion

• Low-flow aerators were used where possible

• Previous materials (mulch) were used for ground cover

• Bath and shower have a visual connection to nature

• Nontoxic, open-cell foam insulation were used throughout the building envelope to seal all potential air infiltration, which exceeds the energy code requirement by 10 percent

• Energy Star certified

• Pressure test (blower door) was used to ensure a well-sealed home

• Efficient framing techniques decreased lumber usage by up to 20 percent without compromising structural integrity

• Insulated, low-emissivity windows and doors minimize heat loss and gain

• Upper-level operable awnings allow rising hot air to escape in summer and passively cool the home

• High-efficiency radiant heat system

• Tankless water heater

• Energy-star refrigerator and dishwasher

• Most interior lights are low-voltage or compact fluorescent

• Natural lighting illuminates colorful walls

• Light wells and windows on all sides of the house maximize natural lighting possibilities

• Site waste was minimized. Everything possible was recycled or reused

• Durable finishes were used on the exterior siding. Pre-finished cedar shake panels have a 25-year warranty

• No carpeting

• Before occupation, the home was cleaned by a service that uses all natural and biodegradable cleaning solutions

• A composting portable toilet was used on site during construction

[Rob Moody is vice president of the Western North Carolina Green Building Council. He is also president and owner of The EcoBuilders Inc., an Asheville-area green builder that focuses on Asheville infill custom and spec homes that are certified NC HealthyBuilt. Rob can be reached at 337-0623 or .]

[Stephen Beili named his residential design firm Studio Dionisi Incorporated to encourage a focus on the pleasure of design: light, color, building green, water, views, etc. Dionisi is Italian for Dionysus, the Greek god of pleasure.]