About us

How do you turn a typical, 100+ year old, multi-unit, masonry building from an energy hog into an energy efficient structure? And doing all that without busting the bank?

My wife Cathy and I decided to find the answer to that question. We started a new pilot project – a deep energy retrofit.

We have some pilot project experience under out belt with development of the One Drop at a Time, which focuses on sustainable landscape development options at the residential scale. The success of that project was so convincing that we decided to take it up one notch. We ventured into green building technologies and building science with our deep energy retrofit at 3141 W. 15th Street.

This is not about short term planning and decision making or how to flip a building! This is about smart long term investment. Why?

An deep energy retrofit (or energy efficient rehab) provides an excellent opportunities to make the home more economical to own, operate, and maintain. It also and provide a significantly healthier and more comfortable environment to live in. Our deep energy retrofit of a typical masonry Chicago twoflat is a case study on how to incorporate energy conservation strategies into existing homes and start saving on operational and maintenance cost.

This blog is documents our deep energy retrofit journey. It shares our research and decision making processes. It show cases the technologies we use and their implementation. And last but not least it reports on testing and metrics, such as the  reduction in our energy consumption.

Feel free to use the blogs search function. Enjoy the read, and don’t be shy about commenting or asking questions. We hope to hear from you!

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3 thoughts on “About us

  1. Hello Marcus and Cathy!
    Great blog–we seem to have a lot of the same interests in native gardening (I’m a total amateur tho), reuse, etc. however I think you go the extra mile in a lot of ways which I greatly admire. I’ve read and referenced your old Pilot project on my bungalow blog as well (und ich spreche ein bißchen Deutsch–Ihre Elterns Garten ist sehr schön!) 🙂 I discovered this blog from this thread on greenbuildingadvisor.com as I was searching how (or if) I should insulate the brick wall in our bungalow bathroom now that we’ve demo’d it. From that thread my takeaway was that it’d be better to just seal air gaps and not insulate if we’re not doing the entire house–would you agree with that? (And of course insulating from the exterior like some suggested is not going to happen.) We did use open cell foam in the roof rafters of our attic renovation but the main floor was never gutted and our budget is extremely limited at this point.
    I’m also thinking of leaving the brick exposed as this is a guest bathroom and is only used a few times a year for showering. In any case, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts as it appears you have done more research about this and are much more knowledgable about it than I. Thanks and keep up the great work!

  2. Denise, I am a big fan of resilient design. Even if you don’t do insulate the rest of the building now, you may want to do it later down the road. At that point it would be a shame to again open up the wall of the recently renovated bathroom… If you insulate and air seal it now, you may not need to touch it in a long, long time. That said, if you plan to leave the brick wall exposed, you have easy access to the exterior wall for future air sealing and insulation. You just would have a leaky and cold wall until such time.

    In short, leaving the brick exposed won’t further your energy saving goals, but leave you with the most flexibility for future air sealing and insulation.

    Hope this helps.

  3. Hi Marcus,
    Like what you do, the way you think, your blog… Having moved here recently from France, finding a lot of differences in construction style, materials, energy prices, insulation techniques, etc. I would like to renovate my parents’ home (about 50 years old last major renovation 20 yrs ago). They created a cathedral ceiling and skylight that are not well insulated and perhaps not well adapted to Chicago weather. Need to take out 3 sky lights and either seal them, replace them with windows that open (height present a problem) or make them smaller and better seal. Perhaps you can advise on best solution. Also have an octagonal shaped kitchen that needs new cabinetry and and old cast iron tub to replace. Can we talk about how I can prioritize and budget for the projects? Hope you can help me. Thanks for contacting me.

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