2015 EcoBlend Award for Home Design

2015 BLEND Award ceremony at Fulton Brewery

2015 BLEND Award ceremony at Fulton Brewery

At the recent BLEND Awards, two local designers were recognized for their smart, sustainably minded designs as EcoBLEND badge winners.

Architect Marnie Peichel

Architect Marnie Peichel

Affordable and Sustainable

One laudable project was done by Marnie Peichel Architecture and Design, with Lewis Building & Remodeling, on behalf of the City of Lakes Community Land Trust, for a property in North Minneapolis.

It is a multi-generational home, created not only for sustainability but for affordable housing, in an area of the city “broken by the tornado of 2011 as well as considerable demolition following foreclosure and abandonment.”

The building provides for extended family support with both private and adjoined spaces. Shared living spaces, laundry facilities and outdoor space provides density with fewer resources per person. Green building techniques and durable materials were used. Renewable energy is provided with solar roofing. A flexible design allows for altered use of living space as families grow and change.

Self-Managed Reconstruction

Designer David Lund built his own home, with sustainability in mind. His Linden Hills home at 41st and Drew had been owned by the same person for 65 years, with overgrown exterior landscaping, a detaching and leaking half-century-old sunroom, and no notable improvements in 35 years. An upper level gas heater from the 1960s was the only heat source on that level. The ceilings had six layers of wallpaper. But it was structurally sound. So rather than a full teardown, Lund retained much of original house, within the existing footprint.

  • A stone patio was added to encourage interaction with neighbors and the street;
  • The entire site was regraded to capture a majority of rain water;
  • All construction waste was recycled;
  • New high-efficiency mechanicals were installed, and all plumbing and electrical systems were upgraded with Energy Star appliances and high-efficiency plumbing fixtures;
  • The attic floor was spray foamed [in addition to 12″ of blown cellulose] to prevent hot air from leaking into the attic;
  • In-floor radiant heat was used throughout the house;
  • High efficiency replacement windows were installed that are super-insulated, low-e, aluminum clad.

The Fulton Neighborhood Association started the BLEND (Buildings and Landscapes Enhancing the Neighborhood) Awards in 2007 to reward innovative designs that are compatible with their surroundings and respectful of nearby homes and neighbors.

The EcoBLEND award was added in 2012. Judges evaluate projects for resource efficiency, water conservation, indoor environmental quality, and energy efficiency.


Past Winners

2014: A McMonigal Architects and Braden Construction home owned by Julie Mulvahill and Peter Yoo. Features included the use of deconstruction, locally sourced materials, recycled rainscreen cladding, plentiful recycling bin spaces, low-flow plumbing fixtures, native landscaping, drip irrigation, raingarden, highly efficient water heater, low-VOC paints, no formaldehyde materials or carpeting, cross-ventilation placement of windows, photovoltaic panels on the roof.

A contractor offered an $89,000 discount for a teardown of the 1928 home, which was rejected.

2013: Locus Architecture and Katie Rose Construction renovated a narrow 1,700 square foot home near Lake Harriet Upper School for Heidi Hardner and Bill Humphrey. “Geothermal heating and cooling is provided via three vertical wells and a heat pump. Blown foam insulates new walls to R-33 and existing to R-21. The roof was insulated to R-50 and pitched to accept future photovoltaic panels.”

2012: The city’s Hiawatha Maintenance Facility at 1901 E. 26th St., designed by RSP Architects, and built by Knutson Construction.

  • Over 90% of construction waste (over 1300 tons) was diverted from landfill through recycling, and nearly 12% of the project’s construction cost was spent utilizing reused materials.
  • Regional materials (26%) and FSC – certified wood (74%) were used extensively – including the reuse of wood roof deck from the existing building as interior wainscoting and locally reclaimed trees removed due to storm or insect damage, re-invented as furniture and trim.
  • The team salvaged components from the demolition of a local Mississippi River bridge and incorporated them into the design.
  • Condemned buildings and asphalt were crushed and recycled for permeable site substrate and Gravel-Pave was installed as a “beta” test for future Public Works sites.
  • The design aggressively manages stormwater runoff due to the site’s proximity to the Mississippi River, Minneapolis’ stormwater policies, and the need for an abnormally high percentage of hard surfaces for vehicular and material storage.

By cost, more than 20% of the materials in the building were harvested or manufactured within 500 miles of the project site. Ultimately about 96% of all the construction and demolition waste, by weight, was diverted from landfills.


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