Historic Homes

Feb. 1, 2003
Chicagoans learn how to preserve historic bungalows while incorporating eco-friendly materials and techniques in the process.
On three sunny Saturdays last summer, hundreds of families visited the 6400 block of South Fairfield Ave. in Chicago, IL, to view the newly renovated and restored Green Bungalows. Prospective buyers stood shoulder to shoulder with current bungalow owners who came from across the city to tour the remodeled homes. Everyone discovered dozens of innovative design ideas and saw how cost effective materials can help update historic Chicago bungalows for modern lifestyles.The Green Bungalow Block was created to demonstrate the ways many Chicagoans can renovate bungalows to take advantage of environmentally friendly materials and techniques and to meet their family's needs while maintaining their historic charm and character. The City of Chicago and the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association spearheaded the project under a special HUD financing program with additional financial assistance from the Southwest Home Equity Assurance Program. Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago (NHS) managed the construction while Greater Southwest Development Corp. organized the extensive community efforts.The Green Bungalow block is the latest of Chicago's green design projects, which also include construction of five new, affordable, green homes of original design, and the recently unveiled Chicago Center for Green Technology. The Green Bungalow block is also a unique addition to the Historic Chicago Bungalow Initiative, which the Brookings Institution has called the "most innovative housing program in the nation."While each of the four bungalows was renovated very differently, they all include cost-saving materials and designs that the visiting bungalow owners were able to take back with them to their own home. Mayor Richard Daley, who presided at the official opening of this event, said, "These bungalows are wonderful examples of how to adapt these beautiful historic homes to modern lifestyles in a way that retains the character of the homes while reducing energy costs and protecting the environment."One home was restored to reflect the original bungalow design, replete with fine woodwork and stained art glass windows. A sealed combustion boiler system operates at an impressive 87 percent efficiency and a high-velocity air conditioning unit cools the home with much less energy and cost than conventional cooling. Attic insulation was made from recycled denim, and a tankless water heater heats only as much water as is needed. A second, wheelchair accessible bungalow, was modified for a wheel chair lift with the first floor expanded to include a master bedroom suite, laundry room and accessible kitchen and bathroom. One of the many green features in this renovation is the geothermal heating and cooling system that taps the constant temperature of the earth, reaching 150 feet below ground where temperatures remain a constant 53 to 55 degrees. Modern argon-filled double-paned windows also make this home energy efficient. The spacious back deck was treated with environmentally friendly copper instead of the conventional toxic arsenic. The third bungalow has a spacious home-office addition on the back of the house with its own entrance. A bathroom and kitchenette were also added to the basement to be accessible to the office addition. This home includes a combination heating system that works as both a furnace and hot water heater. Another of the many green elements is kitchen flooring made from recycled rubber tires. The fourth home, geared toward younger professionals, is lofted with vaulted ceilings and a wide-open spacious design. This home's green features include rooftop solar photovoltaic panels that generate dependable, safe and clean electricity. All drywall is made from recycled products and all interior paints contain low VOCs that enhance the indoor air quality and reduce air pollution. The city's own Greencorps Chicago Program landscaped the homes, using native plants and techniques such as trench drains to use rainwater on site and reduce the impact to the city sewer system. All homes were renovated using state-of-the-art specifications of the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association Design Guidelines to ensure that their historic value is preserved.

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