Contributed by Mark Johnson, FAIA
I’ve focused on newly constructed homes the last few weeks so it’s time for a remodeling project. And what an exciting remodel I’ve found to share with you! This week I invited Kelly Grocoff to share with Green Chix about how she and her husband, Matt, tackled a historic home in Ann Arbor with the vision of making it comfortable, energy efficient, and achieving net-zero energy usage. Their home is now so efficient that is generates more energy than is consumes! Here are excerpts from our interview along with some short videos in which Kelly and Matt share their adventures along the way to achieving a green lifestyle!
Q. Kelly, what instpired you and your family to not only pursue remodeling a historic property in Ann Arbor, but to also set a goal of reaching net-zero energy consumption?
A. It's always been important to us to live our lives in a way that really fits with our values. This is our first home and when we bought it we, like many first time home buyers, dreamed of creating a wonderful, sustainable home that would keep ourselves and our community healthy and happy. That requires making very deliberate choices and not being sidetracked by ‘green-washing’. We really didn't think net-zero would be possible for quite some time, but as it turns out, my husband is a bit of an eco-genius. He was able to get our house so incredibly efficient that we were able to be net-zero with our full solar array. Plus, it really makes economic sense.
Click on this image to see the Video - Energy Efficient Home - An Interview with Kelly and Matt Grocoff, by DTEEnergy
Q. How has living in this home changed your lifestyle from the way you lived in previous dwellings?
A. I am much more comfortable now that in previous homes. We have central air, comfy geothermal heating, and tons of natural light.
Click on this image to learn more about the home - Mission Zero House
Q. You also raised a young child during the process. Are there any lasting memories for you or your daughter that will cause them to be better stewards of the environment?
A. One morning as I was sleepily standing in front of the open refrigerator trying to figure out what I needed, my daughter said to me, "Mommy, close the door, you're making the solar panels work too hard!" She also loves pointing out other solar panels when she sees them. Hopefully solar panels won't be such a novelty in the future.
Click on this image to see the Photo Gallery - ‘Before and After’ photographs of the Grocoff historic remodeling project.
Q. You have lived through a major remodel of a historic property and your family survived! Are their any tips you would offer a family on how to survive living through a project like this? Any do's and don’ts?
A. Do give yourself a break. It's hard to live in a construction site, but it's also important to live your life. It took us three months to tile our shower, but that's partly because we refused to work on Sundays, which was our day off to just be together. Do laugh when you're getting frustrated. Do give yourself fun little projects when you're in the middle of another massive project. We called these "house self esteem projects" where we'd paint a room in the middle of a huge bathroom remodel. Don't feel like you have to do it all: order pizza, let the lawn get a little long, and let the laundry pile up for a few weeks so you can focus on getting the work done. Do marry someone like Matt Grocoff, someone you can laugh with, someone who can organize like crazy, and someone who will hold the vision for you when you just want to get it done.
Click on this image to see the Video - Historic House Turned Net Zero - Family Eliminates Energy Bills . . . Forever
I’d like to thank Kelly for her insights on ‘Living Small, Living Local’ in our interview today. I’m still amazed that the local energy company pays them each month for contributing energy rather than taking energy from the grid! Their house is giving resources back to the community in its second hundred years on planet Earth. If you are in the Ann Arbor area on June 9-10, be sure to tour the Grocoff’s home during MISSION ZERO FEST!
Posted: 5/29/2012 1:58:51 AM by
Heather Wallace | with 0 comments