A family of four invests in a walkable neighborhood by unlocking a neglected bungalow’s carbon-neutral potential.
Rather than retreat to the suburbs, this family looked to a central neighborhood near a university campus. They saw promise in a 1,300 sf 1960’s home referred to locally as “the shack”—the kind of small, under-maintained house prone to a downward spiral of high-turnover rent that can fracture a flourishing community.
The shack’s intensive renovation updates the house’s layout, materiality, envelope, and supporting systems. It enables full use of the 500 sf existing basement and expands the main level to 2,500 sf with a slab-on-grade addition. Both original building and addition utilize post and beam construction, with steel columns and wood framing. A tongue-and-groove bleached cedar ventilated rain screen serves as exterior cladding. Foamed-in-place insulation and insulated sheathing achieve a high-performance envelope, yielding an R-40 roof and R-24 walls. Reconfigured windows imbue mid-century character and maximize daylight, while a minimalist approach throughout eliminates non-essential elements. New, highly efficient climate control systems include a closed loop, horizontally-bored geothermal system with fresh air energy recovery, LED lighting, and EnergyStar appliances. An 8.4kW photovoltaic array powers the mechanical system as well as the house’s all LED lighting and EnergyStar appliances.
The family measures their success in the surplus of energy and credit received from the utility company, the quality of life they enjoy, and the positive influence the house has had on the neighborhood. A nearby property has already begun renewal with the same goals: quality, sustainability, and design excellence.
University Heights, Iowa
1,800 SF (renovated)