Lou Weiss – Couple Builds Green Dream Home on Former Dump Site

Air Date: 10-19-2012| Episode: 260

Some IAQradio listeners are old enough to remember the television comedy series Green Acres in which the protagonists (Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert) have opposing opinions on the ideal place to live…

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Some IAQradio listeners are old enough to remember the television comedy series Green Acres in which the protagonists (Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert) have opposing opinions on the ideal place to live. Join us on IAQ Radio when we discuss Lou and Amy Weiss and their quest to build their environmentally friendly, energy efficient, sustainable dream home in a city neighborhood. Learn about the role that prominent architect Hugh Newell Jacobson, mail order building plans, salvaged airplane fuselages and recycled metal roofing played in the project. Articles in the Wall Street Journal, House Trends Magazine and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette are testimony to the unique accomplishment of Lou & Amy Weiss.



Z-Man’s Blog

Green Acres, Pittsburgh Style

According to Lou Weiss, every architect’s dream is to design a home every common man can afford. As a promotion in Life Magazine, prominent American architect Hugh Newell Jacobson designed the 1998 Dream Home. Lou and wife Amy purchased the plans for $550 and later decided to build their Anti-Mc Mansion green home on a building lot that sits upon a former slag dump site within the city of Pittsburgh. Lou and his wife Amy are owners of WeissLines a firm which represents manufacturers of sustainable building and furnishing products.

Nuggets mined from today’s show:
•80 people have built homes from the Jacobson same design.

•Slag is the vitreous mass left as a residue by the smelting of metallic ore during steelmaking.

•Lou’s definition of green, looks good and lasts.

•Today’s synthetic carpet feature more recycled content, are easier to recycle, and emit fewer VOCs than their predecessors.

•Sustainable cork flooring is made by removing bark from opposing sides of the tree in alternate years.

•Obtaining LEED certification for the project is akin to subjecting oneself to a colonoscopy every step along the way the route to certification.

•The Weiss’ home is very tightly sealed, well insulated and energy efficient.

•The home doesn’t have a roof vent; instead a fan system constantly brings in fresh air.

•A raised bed garden, sits atop the cistern which harvests rainwater used for gardening and toilets.

•The family compost leaves and food scraps.

•The interior design incorporates special needs accommodations. 36” wide doors, comfort height washroom fixtures, light switches mounted low, shower flush

•LEED disagrees with ADA. LEED wants a step up to home as a barrier to moisture and insects, while ADA wants flush to ease entry by wheelchair.

•The yard is planted with no-mow fescue grass and indigenous plants.

•Many choices in building materials and fixtures needed to be made. Much of the decision making process was governed by the challenge of obtaining LEED platinum certification. The Weiss’ avoided OSB, selected low VOC plywood and some Forest Sustainable Hardwoods and a Sanford & Son like variety of recycled materials, kitchen tiles made from recycled surplus aluminum aircraft parts, recycled glass bottles, drywall made with fly ash, recycled metal roofing. The house has 20% glass the maximum LEED allowance. Loss of points for preference of having 1.2 gallon per use single flush toilets rather than dual flush toilets,

•Exterior walls built upon 2”x6” studs.

•Spray insulation both closed cell and open cell foam insulation. Styrofoam board insulation in basement.

•Provides the opportunity for owners to age at home, allowing seniors the ability to live out their lives at home.

•Politically conservative and a global warming doubter, Lou agrees with Dieter that we all have an obligation to the environment.

As promised, the Lou Weiss interview made for an informative and entertaining IAQradio interview.

Today’s music: Green Acres them song
Z-Man signing off