GLEN ELLYN, Ill.. — With more and more homes and homeowners suffering from problems related to less-than-optimum indoor climate control, it’s a “healthy” surprise to find one that’s the opposite.

In fact, this “GreenHouse” in the suburban community of Glen Ellyn just north of Chicago is built to the American Lung Association standards for healthy homes. Started in 1993, Health House is a national education program aimed at raising the standards for building better indoor environments.

Our homes shouldn’t present problems of their own, adding to allergies, asthma and polluted outdoor air, as far as builder Scott Sevon and architect Bill Styczynski are concerned. Sevon of Sevvonco and architect Styczynski of Styczynski, Walker & Associates have worked together on more than 10 homes.

GreenHouse is a 16,000-sq.-ft., 5-bedroom $3.2 million spec home constructed in suburban Chicago showcasing some of the latest and best ideas in green building. The official open house was held September 5.

There was no scrimping on materials or equipment in this “dream home.” Tyvek exterior wrap and seam tape was used throughout to curb air infiltration and make the home more comfortable and energy

 efficient. A radiant floor heating system from Wirsbo with 13 individually controlled temperature zones, and a furnace-air conditioner from Carrier using chlorine-free Puron refrigerant were specified.

CertainTeed Presidential TL shingles, guaranteed for 60 years, were used, along with Dow BlueBoard foam insulation board for the walls.

Sealing the ducts

Ductwork was sealed and insulated on the exterior according to Health House standards for cold climates. Ohio Sealants Inc. product was used on all elbows and plenums, even on the rivets and screws. After installation, the ducts were tested by two third party testers – once before dry walling and once when the mechanical system is in place and all systems are up and running. Dave Pennebaker of Applied Building Solutions, who administered the first test for airtightness, said the home passed “with flying colors.”

Vice president of business development at Hawthorn is Timothy D. Krause, who said the GreenHouse is being monitored from Hawthorn’s own offices, “something I don’t think anyone else is doing yet.” He also told Snips that Hawthorn last year took second place in the Radiant Panel Association’s contest for hydronic heating, commercial category. Krause owned a large service organization before coming to Hawthorn. He has acquired many national recognition awards including the coveted Carrier Distinguished Dealer Award.

Krause said, “The average home has 8.2 air changes per day. That’s a good number. But what normally happens is that fresh air comes in with a certain amount of pollutants. Then it goes across insulation where it picks up what is basically fiberglass dust. We’re going to prevent that from happening here. When we pressurized the ductwork and conducted the duct blast tests, the results were even better than the standards set by the American Lung Association.”

Of course, the home isn’t all go and no show – it has its own closed-in swimming pool and spa, plus elaborate exterior landscaping with native limestone retaining walls. It has its own elevator and five fireplaces, and a butler’s pantry that’s bigger than most kitchens.

Even the plywood floor was pre-cut out of engineered lumber to predetermined specifications at Walnut Custom Homes in Walnut, Ill. in an effort to eliminate waste. Similarly, wall panels were pre-cut and delivered to the site where they were assembled within a matter of hours.

The GreenHouse is more than just another job for Hawthorn. The company’s philosophy and attitude is reflected in its website, which is an eclectic mix of cutting-edge housing, comfort and energy efficiency. Along with ongoing updates of work on the health house, the website carries tips on fall gardening, healthy eating habits and cooking tips.

It also carries a copy of the company’s service agreement and its commitment to quality, reflected in its mission statement: in part, to provide customers with “peace of mind providing convenient, responsive, dependable service at a fair price.”

Hawthorn co-founder Scott Vanderwiel has a wide range of experience in custom home installations, specializing in the bid process. As such, he works closely with the builder and carefully positions Hawthorn as a market leader in the custom housing market – not necessarily the low bidder.

Vice president and coo is Patrick Monson, co-founder of Hawthorn who runs the installation department. He automated the company’s sheet metal shop and incorporated computerized plasma cutting machines, which enhanced profitability.

Vice president of hydronics is Walter Hartje, who started in the hvac business in 1969. He graduated from Washburn Trade School and opened a successful hvac business in Lake Zurich, Ill. specializing in hydronics, service and new construction. That company merged with Hawthorn in 1995.