The greenest garage in chicago on the Bucktown Garden Walk

June 27, 2009

The greenest garage in Chicag0, 1610 N Honore will we included in the annual Bucktown garden walk.  There will be over 100 gardens in the area on the weekend of July 11, 2009.  For more information click here.

Sun and Wind

Sun and Wind


The Dirt on 1610

June 27, 2009

After the excavation of the garage, for the new concrete floor, there was quite a bit of dirt left over that wasn’t exactly garden or flower bed grade soil.  What to do with the left over?- seemed like a waste to send it to a land fill.  So we put it in the house. 

The crawlspace is already too low and will need fill before we poor the new concrete floor (fly-ash of course), so we back filled a lot of the gaps with the dirt from the garage.  Seems like a simple, (dumb almost), little thing, but the more the stuff on site remains on-site, the more minimal our impact will be on the rest of the community and region.

Galvanized Metal

June 23, 2009

The building is being wrapped in corragated galvanized metal- somewhat for aesthetic reasons, but mainly for durability.  The steel is ‘hot dipped’ in zinc which causes the galvanization process- by which the inside is steel, the outside is zinc and the middle product becomes a mix of zinc and iron- binding to the metal in a way that is more than just paint.  If you want to know more you can click here.


The Coolest Garage Door this side of North Avenue

June 17, 2009
One Cool Door (also notice the net meter to the left)

One Cool Door (also notice the net meter to the left)

The BIG door is installed (18 ft annodized aluminum made of 37% reclycled material).  Also notice the Com-ed net meter sitting to the left.  It looks like a regular meter but spins backwards when the solar panels generate more power than we draw in the garage.  Right now we produce over 1000 percent more power than we use (producing about 700 kW hours/month vs using 50 kW hours/month).

This is Artur.



He is the foreman on the job.  Monday when we were installing the door, we needed a bigger header to support the 4 springs needed to raise the 18 ft door.  Not having planned for this, I raced to Home Depot to pick up four 10-ft 2 x 10 boards.  Artur then cut them to length and drove about 80-90 nails into the 4 boards to anchor them to the wall- all in about 15-20 minutes.  He did it in such a quietly competent, quick, serious and earnest way it was hard not to be awe-struck and I kept thinking what  a noble effort it was.

Things in Concrete

June 16, 2009


Some elements that were stuck into the concrete pour last week:


The elemental buildings brand

The elemental buildings brand


Very Dobry

June 14, 2009

The concrete was poured on Friday after the rain-out on Thursday.  The concrete has 50% fly-ash/slag replacement for the cementing material.  Fly-ash and slag are the waste byproduct from coal fired power plants.  According to the US EPA, Portland Cement (the binder used in concrete) is the 3rd largest producer of CO2 emissions in the US annually.  Fly-ash/Slag are also binders, and because they are waste byproducts no new carbon is added to the atmosphere when you use it as a replacement.  The kicker is that when using a combination of cement, fly-ash and slag after 60 days out you get even STRONGER concrete.  The only downside is the concrete takes a little longer to fully cure, and is a little harder to ‘work’.  Because many developers / builders are focused on the short term flipping of houses they’ll forgo using fly-ash.  It seems like a silly trade-off to worry about a few extra weeks of curing when the concrete itself is going to last 100 years. . . but that’s what we sometimes do I guess.

The concrete also was colored- ‘charcoal’, (just for aesthetics).  Here are some pictures.  Most of the crew of general contractor are eastern European, so there is a lot of Polish/Russian spoken on the job site.  Dobry in Polish means good or strong.  With my penchant for languages (Ha!), we say a lot of things are ‘Very Dobry’.


June 5, 2009

The ‘greenest garage in Chicago’ is nearing completion.   What is especially nice is that instead of the solar panels being the last thing thrown up on the roof of a normal project, they are now one of the first things- as a result the new single family home will not only have renewabel energy in the future, but in fact, will be built with it!