One of the greenest and most energy efficient homes in St. Louis is located at 29 Beacon Hill in Creve Coeur. Mr. Howard Shalowitz, the homeowner, allowed city staff to interview him and tour his home for this article.
The home has served as a showcase to educate builders, buyers and the general public about green building options and their benefits. The home has also been awarded the difficult to achieve LEED-H certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Homes) from the US Green Building Council.
The 3,700 sq. ft. home is a near-zero energy home, meaning that it produces the majority of energy it uses via solar power. Other green features include ICF construction (Insulated Concrete Forms) for maximum insulation in walls, geothermal heating and cooling to utilize moderate ground temperatures to work against the extreme temperatures of the winter and summer, a radiant heat blocking house wrap and more. Interior finishes include bamboo and cork floors, counters made from recycled glass, plumbing fixtures that conserve water, non-off-gassing paint and adhesives, and low-energy use light fixtures.
In addition to saving energy, the home provides many conveniences. According to Mr. Shalowitz, “The induction stove boils a pot of water in 90 seconds while using 50% of the energy of a conventional stove.” When asked what feature of the home he would most recommend to other homeowners, Mr. Shalowitz said that a tankless water heater is a great example of an investment that conserves energy - it only heats water when needed and also provides the convenience of never running out of hot water.
One of the best perks of a near-zero energy home is saving money on utility bills. Mr. Shalowitz indicated that his sum total gas bill over the past year and half has been approximately $80 (less than $5 per month on average). During the summer time, the solar panels on the roof generate enough electricity to not only power the home but also feed electricity back onto the power grid, which AmerenUE essentially buys back from the homeowner!
For more information on LEED certification for home construction, visit the US Green Building Council’s website.