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Development News

Ultra-green homes hit the market in NE

D.C. development firm True Turtle, which specializes in building green residences, recently finished two attached properties at 5516 and 5520 4th St. in Riggs Park in northeast D.C. Each is listed for $695,000 and has four bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms. Both homes are also targeted to receive LEED Platinum Certification.

The new, ground-up construction -- the firm’s first -- has all six sides of both homes outfitted with a thick insulated shell that are interconnected from the roof to walls to basement, explained True Turtle founder Tanya Topolewski at a packed house tour event on Feb. 7.

“That’s really the core of how this house performs better [than other homes] -- it’s all connected,” she said.
The deep walls are filled with insulating materials such as shredded newspapers, water-blown foam and Styrofoam -- which prevents the cold air from traveling within the walls.

The air filtering systems not only remove tiny particles such as bacteria, dust and pet dander but also recirculate fresh air throughout the interior. It also serves as a heat exchanger, which preheats and precools the unconditioned air, minimizing the energy usage.

“[The system is] constantly bringing fresh air to the house,” said Topolewski.

Other features that keep these residences comfortable are solid doors, also insulated with foam, and double-pane casement windows, which the developer explained, seal air better than the standard variety.

While the newly built houses weren’t designed to be net-zero (which would have been too expensive to build), Topolewski said that they can reach that level of efficiency if the owners decide to put solar panels on the roof.

“It would make a huge impact on the actual bills,” she said.

As contemporary structures, the design shows off a modern aesthetic both in the exterior and interior. Outside, the neutral-hued HardeePlank facade stands out in neighborhood populated with red brick houses. Inside, the home is complete with a floating staircase, an open layout on the main level, large dramatic windows and a trimless interior.

 “If you're going to have a green building, why have something that's extraneous?” Topolewski said. “Trim is kind of extraneous.”

The appliances are all energy efficient, as with the water, vent and lighting systems.

Sustainable materials also abound. In the kitchen, the countertops are covered with Richlite, an eco-friendly, paper-based surface. The backsplash and detailing, as well as the ebony-colored floors throughout the home, are made from sustainable bamboo.

The new construction is within walking distance from the Fort Totten Metro and Art Place, a forthcoming major mixed-used construction project adjacent to the station. 

Read more articles by Kat Lucero.

Kat Lucero is a journalist based in Washington, D.C.
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