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‘LEED’ing the Way

Solar House Joins School, Library in Glen Allen’s ‘Green’ Corridor
It's hard to miss the latest addition to the "LEED Row" that has sprung up along Staples Mill Road, just down from the new Glen Allen High School.

The newly-renovated 1939 cottage at the corner of Hungary Spring Road, across from Staples Mill Plaza, is nearly dwarfed by the 12-foot by 10-foot solar panel in its side yard.

Which is exactly the visibility Hugh Joyce had in mind when he first envisioned a test house incorporating the latest in energy-efficient innovations.

"I was looking for something to be a model," he told visitors at a Nov. 30 open house, part of a series of "Sustainable Richmond Tours" hosted by the Richmond chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

"This is perfect," said Joyce of the location. "It's so high-profile -- so in-your-face."

Enviable Bills
As president of James River Air Conditioning Company, Joyce had long been contemplating an experimental site that would showcase the company's different products and allow him to monitor energy usage and "test our theories."

Following extensive renovation, the home has acquired a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council – the highest rating possible.

That brings the number of LEED-certified buildings along the mile-long stretch of Staples Mill to three, and makes the home a fitting neighbor for the other LEED-rated structures: the gold-certified Glen Allen H.S. and silver-certified Glen Allen Library.

What's more, the home's innovative features – which include a Google power meter, solar sun tracking, LED lighting, rain water and gray water recovery for irrigation, Energy Star appliance package, and a special air filtration system – are having the desired energy-saving effects. Among the displays at the open house were copies of recent Dominion Virginia Power bills that averaged only slightly more than $20 a month.

A few days after the tour, the November bill came in at enviable $16.39.

"As we speak," Joyce told a recent visitor to the house, "we're selling back 1.5 kilowatts to the power company per hour."

Science Project
Around the corner from the Hungary Spring house, Joyce is using knowledge gained from building the model to construct another solar home -- this time, one to put on the market. "And once we sell that one," he said, "we will build another."

The newer home, which is not located on a commercial corner like the model, will require less visible solar panels; Joyce plans to install knee-high banks of panels and surround them with bushes.

"It's an industrial corner here," he said of the model home, indicating the shopping center across the street and several utility poles in the corner yard. "If there weren't already a lot of poles, we wouldn't have gotten away with [the large solar panel]."

Asked how the next door neighbor feels about living next to a giant solar panel, Joyce replied, "He loves it."

Not only is the exterior of the house much more cosmetically pleasing, said Joyce, but it also has been vacated by some less-than-desirable neighbors.

"There were pit bulls living in here," Joyce said, adding that the dogs' chewing habits forced him to reevaluate plans to reuse the original interior. "There was not a piece of trim that wasn't ripped to smithereens."

He was pleased to report, however, that one signature piece of the old house was salvaged: the front door. "It was beat-up," he said, "but we were able to rebuild it."

The home, which also boasts Earthcraft Virginia platinum certification and EPA Energy Star certification, will continue to serve as a "static science project," said Joyce. He plans to continue learning, and tweaking, from each new home.

While he noted that green-building costs still outweigh whatever energy savings are achieved, projects such as the model home help to demonstrate that green buildings and lifestyles are attainable.

And regardless of global trends toward greener buildings, and whether a worldwide energy crisis will force a shift to alternative energy, Joyce added, "Everyone should want to be green."

"Every new endeavor I do will be green," said Joyce.

"It just makes sense."
Community

Commonwealth Parenting, CMoR-Short Pump to present 6-part parenting forum series

As part of its 30th anniversary year and partnership with the Children's Museum of Richmond, Commonwealth Parenting will present a six-part RVA Parents Forum Series to address some of the toughest issues confronting parents.

Parenting experts and family educators will tackle topics ranging from bullying to alcohol, sex to divorce, and technology and stress. Parents will learn how to identify potential problems.

"We're excited about bringing this much-needed forum series to parents in central Virginia. Through our valuable partnership with Commonwealth Parenting, we can have a deeper impact in the community through parent and caregiver education," said Karen Coltrane, president and CEO of the Children's Museum of Richmond. > Read more.

Celebrating 106 years

Former Sandston resident Mildred Taylor celebrated her 106th birthday Aug. 9. Taylor, who now lives in Powhatan, is still a member of Sandston Baptist Church. She was visited the day after her birthday by several members of the church, who played for her a recording of the entire church membership singing happy birthday to her during worship. > Read more.

YMCA breaks ground for aquatic center

YMCA officials gathered last week to break ground on the new Tommy J. West Aquatic Center at the Shady Grove Family YMCA on Nuckols Road. The center, which will featured 7,600 square feet of competitive and recreational space, including water slides, play areas for children and warmer water for those with physical limitations, is the fourth phase of a $4 million expansion at the facility. West was president and CEO of Capital Interior Contractors and a founding member of the Central Virginia Region of the Virginia Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Check out these three B’s in Henrico this weekend: books, bluegrass and “Born Yesterday.” Other activities to participate in – and feel good about – are the 15th annual James River Regional Cleanup and the 5th annual Richmond Out of the Darkness Community Walk. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

When the cliche stands tall

Inspirational football movie tries too hard for its own good
When the Game Stands Tall is based on a true story – an unbelievable true story that takes the word “inspiring” about as far as it can go.

It’s a film about Bob Ladouceur, coach of the De La Salle High Spartans, a California high school football team with 12 consecutive undefeated seasons (a staggering 151 games won in a row).

Along the way, Ladouceur (played by Jim Caviezel) faced the kind of hardship most football coaches (thankfully) can only imagine – suffering a near-fatal heart attack, the death of a star player, and rebuilding the team after that 151-game streak came to a humiliating end. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Enjoy political comedy at its finest with The Capitol Steps at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. Methodist and Baptist churches unite for the fourth annual Mission Footprint 5K, taking place at Trinity UMC. Or in honor of Grandparent’s Day on Sunday, treat them to A Grand Family Affair or maybe a movie – the 1978 film “Superman” is at the Henrico Theatre. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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