Tackling the Net Zero Challenge in an Old Home

Posted on: June 30th, 2010 by Patrice Frey

Somehow this fantastic resource on OldHouseWeb.com totally passed me by during Preservation Month this year – the theme for which was "Old is the New Green."

Check out this video series by Matt Grocoff, a green renovation expert who explains how he and his wife are greening their 110-year-old home in Michigan. These short videos have tons of ideas about how to sensitively incorporate green features in historic homes.

Video 1 - Old is the New Green: Old Homes Can Be the Greenest Homes

Matt Grocoff takes us on a tour of his Folk Victorian in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We get an overview of how Matt integrates green technology with traditional building materials and fixtures.

Video 2 - Windows: Going Green Without Replacement Windows

Can an old window be as energy efficient as a replacement window? Matt Grocoff discusses alternatives to replacing your old wood windows.

Video 3 - Bathrooms: Clean and Green Bathroom Remodel

Matt Grocoff discusses how traditional building materials and green technology combine to create a renovated bathroom with traditional style and modern comfort.

Matt and his wife are endeavoring to make their home net zero, which means their house will produce as much energy as it uses. That's an ambitious goal for any home, but especially for older homes where aggressive energy efficiency improvements often mean invasive measures like ripping out windows.

What’s unique about Matt’s project is that he’s tackling the net zero challenge in a way that is respectful of the historic integrity of his home. For starters, he's keeping the windows. He is planning one more video on installing insulation, and hopefully he'll post another on how he is incorporating solar technology.

This is one of the only historically respectful net zero home retrofits I have ever heard of. Do you know of any? If so, let me know!

Patrice Frey is the deputy director of the sustainability program at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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