A Historic Home
In retrofitting their
Matt and Kelly Grocoff
offer a model for
restoring the nation’s
courtesy of matthew grocoff, greenovation.tv
Kelly and matt grocoff bought their
circa 1901 ann arbor, mich., home
in 2006. for most of the 1900s,
the family of Philip and elizabeth gauss
lived in the house.
Philip and elizabeth gauss at the
ann arbor, mich., house circa 1913.
their daughter gert, who was born
in the front parlor in 1920, sold the
house to the grocoffs.
By MaTTHEW GROCOFF
It is essential that new houses be constructed to produce as much energy as they use. But how much would we reduce our carbon output if, in coming years, we did so but ignored existing homes? The answer is zero. Of the 130 million existing U.S. homes, the nearly half having inadequate insulation are responsible for 22 percent of our carbon
emissions. Yet virtually all of the net-zero-energy homes in the United States
— fewer than 100 — are new construction or major gut renovations. What
will it take to address existing houses immediately and affordably?
In 2006, my wife, Kelly, and I found our dream come true in the Old
West Side Historic District of Ann Arbor, Mich.: a circa 1901 folk-Victorian
matthew grocoff is a producer and host of greenovation.tV, contributor to the
environment report on public radio ( environmentreport.org), the green renovation expert for Old house Web ( oldhouseweb.com), a frequent lecturer and has
been featured in the Washington Post, USA Today, Detroit Free Press, NBc detroit and
home with lead paint, asbestos siding, a 40 percent-efficient 1957 Mueller
Climatrol gas furnace and a gas-powered lawn mower out in the shed. Other
buyers saw a nightmare. We saw a rock-solid Edwardian-period home,
within walking distance of everything we need, with a 180-degree, south-facing roof with a 45-degree pitch. Developing its potential, we knew, could
be an inspiration, an urgent calling and a model for not only preserving
history, but also protecting our future.
When we purchased our home, I had already started Greenovation.
TV, a multimedia website intended to educate others about how to make
existing homes sustainable. So, from the start, net-zero was a goal for our
new home. I was inspired by Ray Anderson, CEO of carpet-maker Interface Inc. Anderson set a Mission Zero goal to transform his multinational ➢
countless online magazines and blogs. USA Today recently honored the grocoffs’
home as one of the top green houses of 2010. check out greenovation.tV for
instructional videos and information about grocoff’s house restoration.