Homes in Harmony
For the Month of Earth Day, We Return to Some Sustainable Favorites
By the Staff
Over the past decade, Flagstaff has found itself overflowing with many sustainable homes that are environmentally friendly and also well designed and elegant. While we have featured many in our pages, we wanted to select a handful that we felt needed extra attention for their great features or for the builder’s commitment to bring something new and fresh to a neighborhood or part of town.
The push to make homes more and more sustainable has brought the industry a long way. But a quantum leap arrived with one particular home in Doney Park. Built by the Flagstaff company Higher Caliber Construction, the model home residence is what is known as a JEP home. JEP is the initials for John Eugene Propst, who patented new building technology to create what might be the most energy-efficient construction design ever. Propst is based in Phoenix and the field manager for High Caliber, Aaron Womble, has been friends with him and has been interested in the development of this building technology.
The shell of the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home is made from steel framing, polystyrene insulation and a patented nano-ceramic and elastomer blend plaster composite. It all sounds technical, but what it comes down to is that it creates home with very high levels of insulation. It makes it 75 percent more efficient than traditional home construction. That efficiency translates to lower utility bills. The clincher is that estimates for building with this new material put it at about 10 percent higher than traditional construction. This is a notable difference from other green building techniques, which can carry a larger price tag.
By the Greens
The area of Foxglenn and Continental is known for its greens, but mostly in the form of its signature golf courses. However, green has taken on a different meaning as more sustainable homes and building practices have infused into the neighborhood, bringing a new vibe among the classic homes and residences. The most notable of these is a few blocks from Foxglenn Park.
A write-up from the Coconino County Sustainable Building Program recently sang the home’s praises as “truly the first home of its kind in its surrounding area, providing a wonderful example of functional, beautiful, sustainable and net-zero housing. The home is integrated into the site and employed low-impact development and has an extensive rain-water harvesting system.” The dwelling is a 1,400 square foot main residence with a 580-square-foot guest house and around 500 additional square feet of garage space. The single-level design is an open floor plan—way open, with the kitchen, dining and living area dominating the square footage. It’s comfortable living in a home that’s a big dot on the map on the east side for green building.
A Wooded Wonder
The community of Mountainaire has long been a forest retreat a few miles south of Flagstaff. Like its companion neighborhood of Kachina Village, the development has been a home away from the bustle of town for many Flagstaff residents—and also has been a place of getaways and vacation homes. The neighborhood has, in more recent years, seen a number of upgrades and attention—with paved roads and more residents remodeling and redesigning their homes.
Among the newer homes in Mountainaire is an interesting twin-residence project that blends smart lot use with sustainable building ideas. The brainchild of Ian Hublitz with Green Mountain Construction and Brett Jirsa with Jirsa Construction, the two jumped on a great undeveloped lot that backs the Coconino National Forest and build two identical, side-by-side homes to make wise use of the space and create great single family homes with modern designs and touches.
Both residences are 1,475 square feet with two levels. They feature three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms. They are 5,000 square foot lots. The homes themselves are EnergyStar efficient. Some of the features include a high-level R-30 insulation for the walls, energy recovery ventilators for the heating system and WiFi controlled thermostats and hot water heater. The homes have become a great sustainable addition to the residences of Flagstaff’s outlying southern neighborhoods.