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Arlington Forest - Eco-Brick Colonial

This 1940’s house in Arlington Forest VA had two stories and a basement; had two previous room additions: a side office in 1950 and a back sun room in 1995. The homeowners needed to accommodate a guest suite on the main floor for their in-laws, add a master suite, and to solve the flow of circulation on the first floor. The selected green goals included minimize the use of energy; maximize the use of natural light, cross ventilation and quality of the indoor air; and recycling/reuse and low maintenance building materials.

The addition of new rooms changed the scale of the house maintaining the proportions and character of the existing structure and the neighborhood; that was an opportunity to create a central front porch that protects the entry door leading to a welcoming foyer. The main circulation leads to the new open floor plan where the living, dining, kitchen and screened porch areas are integrated and open to the outdoors. The second floor integrates a new quilting studio and master suite with high ceilings and tree-house feeling. Appropriate and practical spaces were designed to achieve the client’s functional and aesthetic requirements and the timeless character of the neighborhood.

The greening of this old house included deconstruction instead of demolition, donating, reusing or recycling old materials. Spray closed cell foam insulation was chosen because of its sealing properties. Radiant heat tubing in cement slab was installed at grade level and tubing in quick track panels on the second floor, both covered by a floating bamboo floor. The new wood burning fireplace draws 100% of its combustion air from outside the house. The cooling system is 15 SEER and was carefully sized considering the type and R value of the insulation and windows. An Energy Recovery Ventilator was installed to control fresh air and humidity. Ceiling fans are in all the main rooms of the house. The location of the operable windows allows double cross natural ventilation at most rooms. Operable skylights at the high ceiling of the kitchen allow the hot air that rises to get out with a chimney effect. Ventilation strategies improve comfort and reduce the need of heating and cooling. Water efficiency strategies include high efficiency faucets and shower heads with chlorine filters, dual flush toilets that reduce water usage by up to 67%, and energy and water efficient cloth washer and dish washer.

We created a beautiful and functional house with an airy feeling full of natural light and views to the lush front and backyard. Initial investment versus return overtime was analyzed in order to deliver an innovative design that benefits the client and the environment. We succeed to deliver a healthy house comfortable to live in and economical to operate with a cost effective budget.

We consider this project a great accomplishment because we exceeded the homeowner’s expectations. Also, we addressed the challenge of integrating the old house in very good condition with the new addition becoming a seamless combination. The house is integrated up to the point that inside you cannot tell where the old house was.

The homeowners love the wooded site with lush front and rear. The inspiration to create this design was to open the views to the beautiful outdoor landscape surrounding the house.

Additional Comments and facts:

Water and Energy savings of 50% / SF

“When our designer, Marta Layseca, encouraged us to consider a “green” renovation for our house, we really weren’t sure what to do. Well, several years later, with a beautifully renovated and expanded house, we have learned a lot. We are happy with our green choices (and wish we could have done more) and recommend that others take the plunge.” – Homeowners

Certifications and awards:

- Green Certification Arlington Green Home Choice Certification 2008, 1st certified home in Arlington Forest

- 2011 My Marvin Architect Challenge Regional Winner

- Metro DC Home Improvement Magazine

- Environmentally Friendly Expansion WTTG Fox5 / Live Broadcast from this house with the homeowner

- Arlington Forest Home Tour 2007 Arlington County and ACE

- Green Living Home and Garden Tour 2008

-Green It Arlington Series: Main Library Presentations 2008, 2009 and 2011

Eco-Brick Colonial