January 26 2011

The Greenest House in Baltimore: 1810 Laurens Street

We are very proud to announce the opening of Ziger/Snead's latest community design project, the 'Greenest House in Baltimore' at 1810 Laurens Street! 'Greenest' in this case means that the house has extremely good indoor air quality, is very energy efficient, has tremendous natural light, will take a beating, conserves water, stays comfortable even on the most extreme days, and does all this for a price most could afford. Sounds pretty good for a 12' wide, 40' long, westside rowhouse renovation doesn't it?! We hope this is just the beginning because Baltimore does big things! Especially when there is a chance we can simultaneously improve the health, finances, and safety of our citizens through sustainability.

How does Platinum sound?

1810 Laurens is currently on track to become the first LEED for Homes Platinum project in Baltimore City, a hard earned distinction illustrating dedication to sustainability on part of both the sponsors and the design team. It means that the project has to meet a very strict set of requirements and could not afford to skip many critical aspects of sustainable design and construction.

This achievement is no accident. It challenged a number of boundaries through the bold vision of project sponsors Sandtown Habitat for Humanity, UnderArmour and the USGBC Maryland. Together, they proposed a high bar for sustainability, organized a team of green building experts, solicited donations, sought out volunteers, and followed through to ensure that the project was a success. They even laid tile in a pinch.

The project team included: Jonas Risen from Ziger/Snead, Bob Hedden from Synthesis Incorporated, Will Philips from UnderArmour, Prescott Gaylord from Hamel Green Construction, Nate Robb from Merritt Properties, Mike Barb from Sandtown H4H, Janice Romonosky from Elysian Energy, Daphne Matthews from Straughan Environmental and many more...

We are thrilled to have completed the Greenhouse House in Baltimore and think that there is a big need for this kind of development in the city. For more information please visit the project website, visit the Ziger/Snead project page, or look for our upcoming lecture on this project during the 2011 Baltimore Green Week!

See images and green features below:


Features of this house include:


  • Thermostatic valve on shower head to stop flow when temperature reaches 95 degrees
  • Gray water reuse for toilet flushing
  • Water Sense rated faucets and shower head
  • CEE (Consortium for Energy Efficiency), Tier 3 rated clothes washing machine
  • Rainwater collection system for watering plants
  • Energy Star rated dishwasher


  • LED lamps in place of CFL?s and incandescent lamps
  • Energy Star rated light fixtures
  • Mini-split, variable speed heat pump with dual AHU?s and dehumidification mode
  • Programmable thermostats
  • High efficiency doors and windows
  • Thermal insulation?rigid foam board and closed cell foam throughout, including under the basement slab
  • Closed cell foam infiltration barrier
  • SolaTube skylights
  • Vacancy sensor in basement for lights
  • Door switches in clothes closets
  • ?Green Away Switch? for overhead lights, half of quad receptacles and ERV
  • 2 kW photovoltaic array with web accessible performance monitor
  • Net electric meter
  • White membrane roof
  • Instantaneous, on-demand gas hot water heater with outside air and sealed combustion chamber
  • Energy recovery ?Powerpipe? HX on main drain line to preheat domestic hot water
  • Humidity controlled bathroom exhaust fan
  • Electric bill tracking via the internet
  • Clothes lines in basement
  • Oilfield (courtesy of Renegade Oilfield service company)

Air Quality

  • No VOC paint
  • Low or no VOC caulks and sealants
  • Energy Star Indoor Air Quality Plus compliant structure
  • ERV with CO2 sensor over-ride
  • Removable/cleanable recycled carpet tile walk-off mat at entrance
  • Shoe storage bench at entrance
  • MERV 13 rated air filters located in RA grilles for easy access


  • Rain garden and native grass
  • Rainwater infiltration system
  • Heat-treated wood for deck, railings and a cedar privacy fence
  • Yard landscaped with native plants


  • FSC wood?interior doors, framing, joists and plywood subfloors
  • Reclaimed oak flooring through out
  • Recycled content cementitious siding for rear wall.
  • Reclaimed demo materials used for stair treads, window sills, kitchen cabinet doors, and pantry doors
  • Recycled demolition and construction debris
  • Recycled carpet tile ?area? rugs
  • Recycled content steel used for railings and stair stringers
  • Reclaimed bathroom vanity and sink top
  • Moisture resistant, recycled content wall board used throughout
  • Advanced framing techniques to minimize materials
  • Finger-jointed trim materials

More to come!

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January 31st, 2011 at 10:54 AM


Very impressive! Since I did my undergrad at Morgan State and majored in Architecture, this house is definitely a breath of fresh green air! Will tours be available to the general public?

February 3rd, 2011 at 11:55 PM

Jonas Risen

We are planning a tour of the house during Baltimore Green Week. (April 16th-23rd) Stay tuned for more information. Thanks, Jonas

February 8th, 2011 at 10:43 PM


Do you have a resource list for the products used in the house? For instance, where did you get that shower valve in the bathroom? I've been in the house a couple of times and your pictures doesn't do just to how much light those solar tubes in the hallway let in. Great job on the house.

February 9th, 2011 at 12:40 AM

Jonas Risen

Maddie- We are developing that list and should have something put together by the time we present in April at BGW. Do you mean the manufacturer or the dealer/store name? Check back then in April and we should have something posted. Jonas

April 5th, 2011 at 10:05 AM

Robert Hedden

The shower valve Maddie is asking about is made by Evolve. and are called the ShowerStart? Ladybug Adapter. Information is available at: http://evolveshowerheads.com/ladybug_showerhead.html They can be purchased on the Evolve website and on the web for less than $30.

April 13th, 2011 at 10:11 AM


Wonderful project. Thanks so much for taking it on. It is a terrific accomplishment and a great example of thoughtful attention to energy, sustainability and good design. Kudos!

April 21st, 2011 at 12:55 PM

carri beer

Good presentation last night. It was nice to see the efforts of all your hard work and collaboration. I do, however, have to express my concern for the touted "affordability" of this project. I understand that it was perhaps a model to see what works and what doesn't, but I think it would be beneficial to the green, affordable housing community if the financial statistics of this project were clearly stated. I feel the project title is a bit deceiving in that it gives the impression that one could replicate all of the incredible systems, design, and materials into a model of affordability. I think it would be extremely beneficial to the community if you published the final cost of all materials + labor - sponsored, donated, and paid for - to give a baseline project cost. Additionally, it would be valuable if the team could list what pieces from this test case could actually be implemented by H4H to create something that is truly affordable and green. I would love to start a conversation that defines and benchmarks 'affordability' and 'green' for the Baltimore rowhouse. You've done a great thing to get us started!

May 15th, 2011 at 4:01 AM

baltimore storage

Really nice view..Good diagram really nice architecture view. This show that the architect is doing really well to build this house.