Four bungalows on the South Side of Chicago offer contractors and consumers a look at environmentally friendly ideas for remodeling smaller, older urban homes in lower- and working-class neighborhoods. Organized by the city of Chicago and Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, the project was headed by construction specialist Annette Conti of NHS, a former contractor who did historical preservation for 20 years.
All the homes use Energy Star appliances and low-VOC interior paints. The “classic” home also incorporates a tankless, on-demand water heater, batts of cotton insulation made from recycled denim in the attic, and a high-velocity air-conditioning system (Unico) that uses flexible mini-ducts that work around the existing radiator heating system and don’t interfere with the historic look.
Other homes include solar panels and a geothermal closed-loop system for heating and cooling the house and water. Insulation options range from basement blankets made with fiberglass batts to blown-in rock wool made from refined smelter ore spun into fibers. French drains not only keep the basements dry but also direct runoff rainwater to the gardens. The decks made with wood are treated with copper instead of chromated copper arsenate, providing the same quality finish and color without the worry of arsenic.