Since building the Gem, the first National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) Emerald-Certified House in the state, Treasure Homes Inc. continues to be a green building leader in northwest Indiana.
“Green building is much more than energy efficiency. It’s a holistic approach to healthy homes that minimizes environmental impact and is certified through third-party verification,” Sarah Oudman of Treasure Homes and leader of the Green Building Alliance for the Home Builders Association of Northwest Indiana (HBA of NWI), explained. “There are 7 keys to a green home - lot design, preparation and development; resource efficiency; energy efficiency; water efficiency; indoor environmental quality; and operation, maintenance and building owner education.”
Located within the Village in Burns Harbor, the Gem was designed and built in 2010 by Treasure Homes, a family-owned and operated design/build firm led by Sarah and her husband Wilbur who brings more than two decades of experience as a well-respected local trim carpenter to the team.
Part of the nation’s first certified Green Neighborhood, the Gem achieved a Home Energy Rating System Index (HERS) rating of 46 which makes it up to 54% more energy efficient than a typical new home and up to 84% more energy efficient than a typical existing home since the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Department of Energy (DOE) recognize that new homes have an average HERS rating of 100, and resale homes average 130.
It was also honored as the category winner for Builder Home, up to 2,500 square feet, in the AARP/NAHB Livable Communities Award for 2010, and recognized among the energy-efficiency elite at the 2011 International Builders’ Show during the EnergyValue Housing Award celebration sponsored by the DOE and NAHB.
Priced at $234,850 with energy bills estimated to average $50 a month, the 1,650 square foot 3 bedroom, 3 bath prairie-style 1 ½-story bungalow features basement walls of TAZCO Insulated Concrete Forms, above-grade exterior walls of Thermocore™ Structural Insulated Panels and Sealection® 500 spray foam insulated roof assembly covered by CertainTeed shingles. This combination keeps the home quiet as well as energy efficient, according to Oudman.
Highly efficient, locally produced Alliance windows, Solatube daylighting system, CertainTeed fiber cement siding and Owens-Corning stone veneer complete the building envelope.
Also designed for efficiency, comfort and health, the mechanicals start with a state-of-the-art Lennox Indoor Comfort System and Rinnai tankless water heater with manifold plumbing system featuring individual lines for hot and cold water at each area where it’s used so you don’t have to wait and waste water each time you change from hot to cold.
There are water-saving fixtures and an energy-efficient lighting package, along with enhancements to indoor air quality including fresh air ventilation and filtration with low or no VOC materials and finishes that also contribute to a healthy home.
Outside, innovative storm water management practices including Filtercrete™ pervious concrete with a low-maintenance, sustainable landscape design complete with rain barrel and bioswale reduce the overall environmental impact.
“Sarah is one of the few builders who really truly believes in what she does and the benefits for her homeowners,” Chris Schwarzkopf, the green specialist for Energy Diagnostics in Valparaiso, said. “We work with a lot of builders and rate homes in five states. She definitely takes it to another level. We first met through the homebuilders association in 2008 and started working together in 2009. She really does her homework and takes advantage of all the certifications she can. To date the Gem house remains one of the tightest we’ve ever tested, but there’s more to green building than blower door testing.”
“The Gem has been an ideal demonstration/education house,” Oudman added. “I am definitely inspired by other people in other areas who have been doing it for a long time. We’ve been very fortunate to work with people who want more than just energy efficiency. People who understand the value of a home that’s truly green and can look at the whole picture. Green building will save you money on energy bills, but it also results in a high-performance home that offers lasting comfort and a healthy environment for your family.”
Currently building one home for a client and another which will serve as their personal residence/model in the Village in Burns Harbor, Treasure Homes is also working on a contemporary style open concept 1,850 square foot ranch home with three bedrooms, four baths and a finished basement in the Cottages of Aberdeen for the family of a doctor Oudman met during a Duneland Chamber of Commerce meeting over a year ago.
“My wife Geraldine was giving a talk at the Chamber about women’s health around the same time we had been looking into the green building techniques and technologies that make a home a more energy efficient,” Paul Feria, who has been renting a paired home in Aberdeen ever since his wife accepted her first post-residency position with Porter Regional Hospital. “We really like it here so when we noticed there was a lot for sale just around the corner, we bought it and called Sarah. We never really vetted her. We just connected as she was telling us everything she knows about green building. We really had no idea how everything plays a role, how pervasive it is through the house.”
The Ferias worked closely with Oudman and her recommended architectural home design consultant Eric Holt who led Purdue University’s INhome team to a 2nd place finish at the 2011 Solar Decathlon.
“We think of them as our green building team,” Feria added. “After months of planning and waiting for approval from the Aberdeen HOA, it’s very exciting to see it become real. We’re in the process of picking out all the interior finishes right now.”
“You can really appreciate the fact that the Feria’s wanted stay in the same neighborhood and create an original green design for their new home,” Oudman said. “It’s important to acknowledge that the way we plan our communities, our homes and developments affects our lives.”