A leader in LEED design

A look at Linden Hills’ first home built with LEED in mind

LINDEN HILLS — Green isn’t just for the suburbs anymore.

In January, Minnetonka unveiled the Live Green, Live Smart Sustainable House, a project that showed off a new phase in environmentally friendly building — a LEED-certified home.

It was an “ooh” and “aah” moment. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) has been around for years, but it had focused primarily on rewarding commercial developments for sustainable building practices. The U.S. Green Building Council now has started rewarding green homes, too.

While the Sustainable House is green down to its finest details, it’s also entirely suburbanesque, not looking much different from its direct neighbors: big plot of land, big garage, big everything.

If that’s what green looks like in the ’burbs, Br’er Abbott is what green looks like in Linden Hills.

The newly constructed house, at 4127 Abbott Ave. S., is the first home in the area expected to be LEED-certified. It’s also both distinctive and unique and grossing out some neighbors.

It’s more than 3,600 square feet of sustainable material: steel, bamboo, concrete, cork. A Japanese design, its flat roofs contrast with the angled colonial homes that surround it.

Travis Anderson, a down-the-street neighbor, called the home “fortress-like.” Next door, Dianne Leider said it’s better than the “plain-looking” home that was there before.

Br’er Abbott designer Jonathan Query said it’s just his architectural company’s style.

“All our work, LEED or not, is different from what’s around it,” he said.

The home was a project meant for Linden Hills. That was the mindset of Query’s III AD, which started looking about two years ago for a site where they could build in a nature-friendly manner.

“I wanted to be in a neighborhood where people already knew what the green concept was all about,” Query said.

He found it in this environmental-conscientiousness-entrenched Southwest neighborhood last February. Construction started shortly afterward.

Not much of the original 1950s-style home remains; only the basement and some walls of the first floor were reused. But almost everything was saved: Fitting with LEED standards, most material from the original home was recycled. So were items used for the construction itself.

“I’ve seen them recycle the boxes for the nails,” said David Kleine, the home’s Realtor who lives across the street on Abbott Avenue.

LEED for Homes has a strict set of guidelines for certification (see sidebar), but it primarily comes down to using materials that won’t soon need replacement and living in an environment that offers life’s necessities nearby.

Br’er Abbott is constructed to the brim with sustainable materials. It’s a five-minute drive removed from shops and restaurants and even less from Lake Calhoun.

All of that hopefully adds up to a second-best gold rating, Query said. He will learn of the home’s certification after construction winds down some time in the next month.

Reach Cristof Traudes at ctraudes@mnpubs.com.

The LEED for Homes checklist — a really simple version

The LEED for Homes program bases its ratings on eight categories:

1. Innovation and design process: Were any special methods used?

2. Location and linkages: Is the house’s site environmentally friendly?

3. Sustainable sites: Does the home stick out or fit in?

4. Water efficiency: Is little water wasted, indoors and outdoors?

5. Energy and atmosphere: How efficient is the building’s heating and cooling design?

6. Materials and resources: Were sustainable materials used, and was waste minimized?

7. Indoor environmental quality: How healthy is the air inside?

8. Awareness and education: Does the homeowner know how to live green?

Click here for a green home tour.