Are you Serious?

July 6, 2010

Windows from Serious Materials went in over the last couple of weeks.    Not only is Serious Materials doing the 6,500 window window replacement in the Empire State Building, but they are also doing the 35 window replacements in 1610 N Honore! 

Serious Materials builds one of, if not the most energy-efficient windows in the world.  The windows going in at 1610 contain 2 planes of glass, a suspended film, and krypton gas.  The frame is made from fiberglass which has lower thermal-bridging characteristics than vinyl, wood or aluminum and doesn’t have the carbon footprint of vinyl (an oil based product) or wood.    

R-value: an average window might have an R value of 1.  A really well-made double pane window from a company such as Marvin or Pella might achieve an R value of 3.  The Serious Materials Windows achieve an R value of 9.  The higher the R-value-the higher the resistance, the higher the resistance the higher insulation, the higher the insulation- the slower heat moves through the material, and the slower heat moves through- the lower the energy required to heat or cool the inside space. 

In addition to the recent press on the empire state building, the California-based company also made news a year and a half ago when they bought the Chicago based window company Republic Glass who gained national press when the workers staged a sit-in to save their paychecks and benefits when the then ownership up and left town and told the workers they were out of jobs.  Article.  So in addition to being good for the environment, it’s a company with a social conscience as well.

What’s with the balloon?   Since the windows are manufactured in Colorado at higher elevation, the change in pressure at Chicago’s near sea level elevation compresses the Krypton gas in-between the window panes.  Since the Krypton is an important part of the insulation, having less of it in the window is bad. . . . The solution?  fill the balloon in Colorado with Krypton and when the windows get to sea level and the pressure changes it forces the gas out of the balloon and into the window- and solving the problem.  The wire tube is then crimped and cut and tucked into the frame.

exhibit A


The truck arrives

two major sections await their new home

Chris, Woytek and Arthur take charge

a view from the south-east

A view from the West

Just the house

The master bedroom (middle level) and kitchen windows (above)

view from the south (Kitchen to the left, Stairwell to the right)



the Chapman family (Roy, Mel, Mitch, Dane, and Skyler) gets Serious

Greenbuild 2010

June 27, 2010

It’s official!  1610 N Honore and ‘the greenest garage in Chicago’ will be part of Greenbuild when it comes back to Chicago.  Greenbuild is the annual meeting of the USGBC and brings 25,000-30,000 building professionals and others interested in sustainability together for a 3-day conference, exhibit hall, and tours.  The international conference is one of the largest in the greenbuilding industry and past keynote speakers have included Bill Clinton, Van Jones and Al Gore.

From the acceptance correspondence:

Congratulations!  Your tour proposal has been accepted for inclusion in the Greenbuild 2010 Tour Program as part of the following tour package:
Approved Site: Elemental Building
Primary Contact: Thomas McGrath
Tour Package: Sustainability in Chicago’s North-side Residential Neighborhoods
Tour Theme: Residential Green Building
Tour Schedule: Afternoon of Friday, Nov. 19

The Bridge . . . .

June 21, 2010

is back! (as Elton John used to say something along those lines).

The bridge from the kitchen to the rooftop deck on the garage was sent off for galvanization and then re-installed.

view from the courtyard

View from the kitchen

From Floor To Ceiling

June 16, 2010

The 1890’s home contained some nice, wide old-growth pine wood floors.  Over the years they had been painted and covered in newspaper, multiple layers of tile, and carpet.  Also, because they were soft wood they developed extensive wear patterns and shallow spots in high traffic areas.  As a result, they weren’t great candidates for re-use again as flooring. 

example of old flooring

Rather than give up on the product and send it off to a landfill, we decided to flip it over, plane it, seal both sides and re-purpose it as soffit facing. 

West porch soffit

Sheet-rocked 2

June 11, 2010

Below Arthur, Vladamir and Chris put the final touches on the glasroc ceiling.




The final product- looking East

A ceiling sheet-rocked

June 10, 2010

the new ceiling- looking West

There was a time when choosing drywall amounted to determining if you wanted 3/8, 1/2, or 5/8 thickness, white board or green board and that was it.   Recently though, problems have developed related to certain drywall brands that contained sulfur and mercury and other toxic elements that corroded copper pipes and other metals in the home.  The attached story highlights ‘toxic drywall” installed in Richmond Virginia which was imported from China.  Other stories have been published about the rebuild in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina where residents found similar results.  

The EPA did a study looking at both foreign as well as American made drywall, and though the drywall with the most toxins was a foreign brand, several american products were found to contain contaminants as well.  The Pharos project– part of the Healthy Building Network, also has created a rating system for drywall in which they review and assess manufacture reported content.  There is still a lot of gaps to be filled in on what products do and don’t contain and how they are getting in there, but in the end after reviewing safety data sheets from companies and using the EPA study we decided to go with glassrock from Certainteed for the ceilings (due to the lack of paper they are mold-resistant) and gold bond from National Gypsum for the walls. 

Now that we have that settled, and the ceiling is up, we’ll next install the radiant ceiling system which will heat and cool the house- Efficiently, and be the subject of a future post.


June 7, 2010

We placed the upper floor concrete a few weeks ago which will serve as the finished floor for the Kitchen, Dining Room, and Living Room.  The floor was lined with tubing for radiant heating AND cooling through-out the floor.   The concrete contained integral color.  It was supposed to be ‘charcoal’, but turned out to be more of an ‘eggplant’.  At first this was a concern, but the color has grown on us, and as luck would have it is going to be an even better color for the space.  Whew!

Looking East- Pre placement- notice radiant tubing


Looking west, with UltraCure protective curing sheets and 1/8 plywood protective covering