Jim Gleeson’s intention when creating his vision of a uniquely Charlotte-style home was to design a house adaptable enough to fit into the region’s existing neighborhoods while being on the forefront of energy efficient technology and environmentally holistic construction.
“The Charlotte Green Home should be at once at home on any street in Charlotte, AND a perfect response to the orientation and environmental characteristics of its site,” he writes. “It should feature clean air, healthy materials and finishes, and low maintenance; it should allow its owners unlimited access to water- and energy-saving techniques, now and in the future.”
Gleeson, of Design Integration, specializes in the design and planning of green homes, including many award-winning and certified green homes from Lake Wylie to Statesville.
“I do only passive solar green custom homes and was the first and maybe still only architect to concentrate on authentically certifiable energy efficient homes,” he wrote in response to emailed questions. “They are mostly contemporary but have shown how these techniques can be applied to any style.”
While the “Charlotte Green Home” is meant to have curb appeal in any neighborhood in the city, it is also designed to achieve 50 percent energy reduction compared to a similar home through the use of passive solar design, a high-efficiency ground source heat pump, and a solar chimney to help the home retain warmth in the winter and release heat in the summer. It’s also positioned so that its living area windows are shaded from direct summer sun but warmed and lit by direct winter sun.
It is designed to be adapted in the future to provide full power generation through photovoltaic systems, be water neutral through the use of rain capture, self-contained waste treatment and water reuse, and eliminate high-maintenance grass in favor of indigenous plants.
“If there is to be any kind on consensus on what a Charlotte home should be, it must be BOTH comfortable among its neighbors AND functional, not only for its owners, but relative to the environment, resources and economy, he wrote on his submission. “It must also be capable of the sustainability needs of the future.”
When asked why he chose to submit a design, Gleeson responded in part: “I believe aesthetics and performance must go hand in hand. If a home or any building is great looking but is not energy efficient and wasn’t built using the healthiest and greenest materials in my opinion it is not ‘good’ architecture. There is no reason any house couldn’t have been designed to use passive solar principals. I submitted a design to show how a house might do all these things and still fit aesthetically in a Charlotte neighborhood. In addition, it should certainly be adaptable to future energy and sustainability demands – even off the grid!”