"Tour homes feature green design

Southeast Neighborhood Development (SEND) will host its annual Fab for Less Home Tour this weekend in Fountain Square. Volunteer architects and designers have joined forces to create two eco-friendly homes using affordable, sustainable materials.

Fab for Less will feature a restored home (1305 Pleasant St.) and a new home (1301 Pleasant St.). SEND president, Mark Stewart, said that having the homes next door to one another make the tour much more convenient and interesting because of the contrast. Each home is designed entirely by different professional designers who have donated their time. The restored home will feature a “Deja New” theme created by designer Nikki Sutton. Kate Salzman will create an “Eco Chic” theme in the new home using green design with new products found in typical home stores. Every room in both homes is limited to a $1,000 budget.

Sam Miller, an architect from Ecology House (www.ecologyhouse.com), blueprinted the new 1301 Pleasant St. with energy efficiency in mind. Ecology House is a firm dedicated to green design and building principles. To ensure that the home was energy efficient, Miller said he began with a “highly efficient envelope or shell.” He then designed the duct work inside the home so that warm air doesn’t leak in the winter and cool air doesn’t escape in the summer. The home was built with the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) in the ceiling so that if the air leaks, it leaks into the home rather than the crawl space or outside.

Miller says green design is costly, but it pays off in the long-run.

“What we are striving to do with houses is to get affordability to meet with green [design principles],” Miller said.

He also believes that it is getting easier to go green because there is an increasing market demand.

Both homes feature energy-star appliances recycled carpet, low volatile organic compound (VOC) paint, compact fluorescent lights and low-flow faucets that can be found in all major home stores.

Sutton shopped for her décor at Goodwill and chose a new route home each night to scope garage sales. Her most expensive piece of furniture was a couch for $20 from Goodwill. The entertainment center was three dollars from a garage sale. Paint and fabric made these old, used pieces deja new. Most of the furniture on display will be sold at the end of the event.

To relieve a little pressure on the designers — and to highlight Fountain Square’s artistic culture — pieces from various art events will also be on display in the homes. One piece is actually the winner from last year’s Masterpiece in a Day. All artwork will also be on sale.

SEND is a not-for-profit organization whose goal is to “improve the quality of life for people on Indianapolis’s near southeast side, accomplished through affordable housing programs, low-and-no-cost renovations, economic development and other efforts.”

Both homes will be for sale after the event. All proceeds including ticket sales will benefit SEND. As volunteer event co-chair and local architect Jim Ligenfelter said, “two people are going to get very nice homes.”

The tours begin at 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Tickets are $10 at the door. The format will be self-guided with volunteers available to explain features. There will also be an “education room” in each house that shows photos and gives information on energy efficiency. For more information visit www.discoverfountainsquare.com.