This page will contain an introduction to our project and some history behind our decision to build a Green Built Home.

Why did we build a new house?

We had known for some time that we would need to move into the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, out of a desire to have our child attend school in this district.

We started by reviewing listings of numerous existing homes for sale. There were certainly a lot of listings. (Keep in mind that mid-2009 was a serious buyer's market in real estate.) For Middleton, we found in general that the listings either underperformed our expectations, were priced well out of our range, or were located far beyond the city limits. (Isn't that always the case?)

We also investigated building a new home.  As part of the process we also got some rough pricing from the company that had built our then-current home. All in all, after being referred by some friends, we found that the Acker Builders offered the best combination of features and value for our needs.

We also searched quite extensively for lots. There was not much land available in the school district that met our needs. Most lots were quite far away (with connectivity to the Madison area via heavily traveled two-lane roads). This would automatically add 5 or 10 miles (and at least 10-15 minutes) to most any commute. However, the conservancy lots at Middleton Ridge were a perfect fit; close to schools and shopping, equipped with municipal water and sewer, and priced within our budget.

How did we decide to do a "green" house?

The decision to build a "green" house was initially motivated by practicality more than an overriding desire to be "green." It started innocently enough -- the builder's default furnace was a 91% efficient unit, whereas our then-current house had a 95% efficient unit, so we set off to research HVAC systems. While researching the alternatives, we noticed that there was now a 30% tax credit on the entire cost of a geothermal installation. We wondered how much a geothermal installation would cost, and whether it would be practical for us, so we did lots and lots of reading.

Eventually we came across an incentive from Focus on Energy, an organization that works with eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. From there we read about Energy Star homes and that contained a link to Green Built Homes. In reviewing the checklists, it looked like many of the features we already wanted in our home were on those lists. So we started asking the builder questions from the checklists.

What have we learned?

We learned how little we actually knew about the techniques that can dramatically improve efficiency and indoor air quality of a home.  Using the Green Built Home checklist as a guide, we learned about the features that gave "points" and worked with our builder to implement features that we wanted. Many of these were easily included; some for free and some at only a minimal cost. As we researched the "how" and "why" of these features, we became more educated.

We also used the checklist to evaluate bids from subcontractors, because many of the checklist items were a good indication of "quality construction" as much as they measured "eco-friendly construction."  By asking the subcontractors whether they included or met those green built standards, we found that although two quotes might be the same cost and look very similar, some vendors include more standard features than others.

Why did we create

First and foremost, we created it as a place where family and friends could track the progress of the house. It was a central location for us to post pictures and updates to those following the construction from afar.

Now that construction is complete and we've moved in, there is not a whole lot more to add to this site.  We are leaving our older content available for anyone who may be interested in building a Green Built Home, or just implementing some eco-friendly features.  You can benefit from the knowledge we gained and work with your contractor more effectively. The unique feature of this website is that both the homeowners and the builder contributed content, providing a more comprehensive insight into the process from multiple points of view.

The real-time output from the solar panels is also on this website, in the upper right corner of the top page.