All the world is a stage

June 28, 2012

Officially Green 2.0

October 4, 2011


Project #: 6134

Dear Thomas McGrath,   

USGBC is extremely pleased to approve the certification of the LEED home(s) at 1610 North Honore Street, Chicago, IL, USA built by Thomas McGrath, and supported by the LEED for Homes Provider, Alliance for Environmental Sustainability. This project received a “LEED Platinum” rating.  Congratulations! The certificates for this project will be ordered by your LEED for Homes Provider, Alliance for Environmental Sustainability.  Project information for your LEED-certified project is recorded exactly as it appears below. If any of the information below is incorrect, please contact me ASAP so that alterations can be made. 

Project AddressCityStateRating SystemLevelNumber to Print
1610 North Honore StreetChicagoILLEED for HomesPlatinum4

 Congratulations on this great accomplishment!  Look for an email shortly that will help get you started in celebrating your new LEED for Homes certified project. Please let our team know if you have any questions.

Best regards,

Mika Kania

Associate, Residential

U.S. Green Building Council

2101 L Street NW, Suite 500,

Washington, DC  20037 | Direct:  202.595.3962 | Fax: 202.828.5110

Paint by Numbers

December 7, 2010

Low- VOC

Zero . . . . . VOCs

With increased understanding of the effects of off-gassing of solvents and adhesives, more attention is now paid to Volatile Organic Compounds- VOCs- and how much is in any given product used in the home.  From paints to sealants to floor coatings to glues to plastic cement, most contain certain amounts of VOCs.

Sometimes considered the contributer to sick building syndrome, VOCs have been known to irritate skin, eyes and nasal passages, cause headaches, nausea, to damage liver, kidney and central nervous system function and cause types of cancers.

LEED for Homes, prescribes limits for a variety of types of solvents and adhesives.  For paints it sets a standard of 50 grams/liter for flat paint and 150 grams/liter for non-flat paint. 

Our paint came from Eco deco and had VOC values of ZERO for flat and less than 40 g/liter for non-flat paint.

Eco Deco paints are specifically designed using the latest technology and manufacturing process to protect their customer and the environment. They only sell high performance soybean-based and acrylic-based products. 
Soybean-based paints have a very low V.O.C level, do not contain any petroleum-based chemicals and are great interior projects. Acrylic-based paints have no V.O.C and can be used for both interior and exterior home projects.
Most of their products are “Ecolabel” certified. “Ecolabel” is the official European Union’s label for sustainable products and has higher standards than any regulation or certification in the United States (including the state of California).

The thing about VOC based products is that they weren’t developed just because they were unhealthy.  They were developed because they worked well at binding things together and as a medium to spreading pigment.  As many manufacturers have recently switched to low VOC, their products suffered and have tended not to perform well.  Eco-Deco has been around for 25 years however and used extensively in Europe, and has developed the technology to produce a product that is both healthy and effective and we have been very happy with it.

Bertrand Valero, of ECO DECO, at the USGBC tour of Elemental Building

Snapshots in time

November 28, 2010

From the garage rooftop deck

Garden Bridge

Elemental Stairs


Kitchen II

The Bar is Open

Rais Pina Fireplace (it rotates 360 degrees)

Fireplace Close-up


Light at the end of a bedroom

Close-up of reclaimed floors. including 130 year old nail holes

Master Bedroom

Master Bath

3rd Bedroom

2nd Bath

Bedroom #4 (a room with a view)

a tub of unusual proportions


November 24, 2010

Last week, the USGBC held its annual Greenbuild convention and conference at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center.  Colin Powell delivered the key-note address and attendance was estimated at 25,000 people.

Elemental building was part of a sold-out tour featuring urban residential projects and included attendees from Canada, Israel, Singapore, Brazil, the Hague as well as cities across the US.  The tour was so popular a second tour was added to accommodate members of the Chinese Consulate and the Chinese USGBC. 

In classic realty show fashion- the 50 person tour bus pulled up front as the general contractor was loading up the last of the left over materials on a truck out the back, and the cleaning crew was putting last-minute touches on the basement.

The tour arrives

Photo Op

From the Garden

This place can handle a party



Looking East

Looking West

Field Greens

November 22, 2010

Elemental Building was featured in an article in Chicago Magazine last week:


Maurie’s Doors

November 16, 2010

This is Maurie (along with me Tom, the developer).

Tom and Maurie

Maurie is 92, soon to be 93 and he’s lived in the neighborhood since 1919.  In fact his grandfather bought the two houses across from 1610 in 1917.  He grew up playing stick ball in vacant lots and his uncles ran a shipping service out of their 4 car garage.  He’s a union brick layer, or at least was for many years.  He still knows how to feather a joint as he displayed last summer when he borrowed some mortar and bricks to fix his brick garage.  A year and a half ago he gave me 5 doors that his brother had pulled out of a hotel downtown during the 30’s or 40’s.  He wasn’t sure what kind of wood but thought mahogany.  Now they are in the elemental building.

with many years of paint


And Hung

On A Tile Basis

October 28, 2010
The gang from Performer’s Flooring & Design Gallery 25W561 Army Trail Road, Bloomingdale, IL 60108 
 finished up about 90% of the work on the bathroom tile last week.  Me thinks they did a fantastic job.

The Basement Bath

The Basement Shower

Master Bath

Master Bath Shower

Master Bath

Rain on my parade

October 21, 2010

Progress last week included polishing and densifying the concrete floor with a lithium based densifier and beginning the install of the kitchen:

a polished floor- the blue is sky, not water

Kitchen by Arclinea

Also going in last week, the 1000 gallon rain water cistern:

Greg Raymond (truck) and the crew from EcoGardens

"in the hole!"

settled in

Elemental Building- On the market

October 4, 2010

1610 N Honore is now officially for sale.  More information can be found at: