The Project/Team

1610 N Honore St, Chicago Illinois

Located in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood, the project is an 1890s 1-story with basement 2-flat, that will have a floor added and be converted into a single family home- Resusing as much of the existing structure as possible, and as much existing material as possible.  Where re-using material doesn’t make sense (such as old energy inefficient windows, appliances, heating systems), the most energy efficient replacements will be used.   Other non-mechanical and non insulating materials will be selected based on the sustainability of their manufacture process (FSC lumber for example) and the healthfulness to living things (Low VOC paints and binders).

Aiming to be USGBC LEED Platinum, Chicago 3 star & Energy Net Positive

The ugly duckling (Someday to grow into a swan)

The ugly duckling (Someday to grow into a swan)

Project Leaders:

Owner – Thomas McGrath

Architect – Gerhard Zinserling

Builder – Act Development Inc, Owner Ted Roszkowski

Other Partners:

Solar PV (Electric)- Habi-tek, Owner Tom DeBates

Kitchen Cabinets –  Website

Appliances-    Website


Eco Deco is the American branch of a European paint manufacturer that supplies high quality sustainable paint. 
Our products are all water based, Zero/Low-VOC paints that exceed South Coast Quality Air Management District (SCQAMD) and LEED requirements


Plumbing Fixtures –   Two-time, US Watersense (TM) Partner of the Year: Website

Solar Thermal – Earth Wind and Solar

Construction and Demo Debris and Recycling- Recycling Systems Inc (RSI)

Concrete- Ozinga (Brian Lutey is especially informative and helpful)

8 Responses to The Project/Team

  1. […] awning providing power to the construction team. Learn more about this building at the project web site. Chicago LEED for Homes Gut Rehab and Green […]

  2. Tom,
    Thanks so much for the tour of the home. I really enjoyed seeing the reuse of the original lumber in your project. Most contractors (and homeowners) are not willing to take the time and expense of recycling perfectly good material because it takes more time and attention.

    I will follow up with you about the local source for oak and black locust as a possible wood for the deck. The local supplier for the rain water recycling systems is Lake St. Landscape Supply. As for Mark or Andrew about their systems.

    My thanks to Jason La Fleur from the Alliance for Environmental Sustainability for organizing the tour.


  3. Tod Tappert says:

    Hey Tom,
    Great to run into you last night. This website is terrific. I now have a much deeper sense of what you’ve been doing than from a couple of conversations with you and conversations with Mike and Susan.

    I plan to forward this to Les Ventsch, the other friend you met last night. I know that he’ll be really interested in this.

    Best to you.

  4. Brad Riemann says:


    My wife and I recently purchased a new sinlge family home in Logan Square / Avondale area so we unfortunately no longer live across the street. While it is certainly not of the scale of your project as yours, we have already begun giving the home a green makeover. Please feel free to follow the blog we are keeping at:

    Brad Riemann

    • elementalbuilding says:

      Brad. Congratulations and way to go with continuing the movement forward. Look forward to checking in on your project as well. Tom

  5. Brad Kolar says:

    Hey Tom,

    Great work! It’s exciting to see what you are doing right in the heart of the city.

    Have you been up to the Aldo Leopold Center in Baraboo, WI? They say they are the greenest public building in the US. We got a tour last year. They’ve done some pretty impressive stuff. It might give you some ideas.

    Take care and keep up the good work.

  6. […] project was recently in the news, filmed by the ABC (Channel 7) News team. Tom McGrath’s Elemental Building is a gut-rehab project transformed into a high-end LEED Platinum home right in the heart of […]

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