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Three Questions for Jason La Fleur of the U.S. Green Building Council

As the housing market starts to slowly climb out of the red, some local residential players are thinking green. Accordingly, this weekend the U.S. Green Building Council's Illinois Chapter will partner with the Alliance for Environmental Sustainability, Passive House Alliance Chicago, and Tribune Media Company to put on the area's first Green Built Home Tour. The self-guided tour will showcase eco-friendly, sustainable homes in the North suburbs, far West suburbs, near West suburbs, and the city itself. We reached out to Jason La Fleur of green home consultants Eco Achievers, chair of the USGBC Illinois' Residential Green Building Committee, to find out more about this weekend's event:
Curbed: This is the home tour's inaugural year, why did the Green Building Council and the tour's other sponsors decide this was an important event to host now?

La Fleur: We feel that with the real estate market returning, we want to showcase design and construction practices that deliver comfortable, durable, healthy homes that are also more efficient. We felt the best way to educate people was to let them walk inside some of these high-performance green homes to demystify what green means, and show that they too can have a greener home.

Curbed: What homes and features would you say are this year's must-sees?

La Fleur: Each home is an outstanding project showcasing quality construction with different takes on what green means. They also do a terrific job of blending in with the neighborhood to be transparently green - folks might already be living next to one of these green homes without even knowing it! It's hard to pick just a few homes but there are certainly some projects that push the envelope.

It's worth noting that while most of the homes are new construction, there are two existing homes that were renovated with sustainability in mind that are also part of the tour, as well as two other homes that are currently under construction.

Folks can expect to see typical green features such as solar energy systems on a handful of the homes, but other features such as non-traditional HVAC systems, greywater recycling systems, unique ways to insulate homes more efficiently, attention to quality design areas like kitchens that use repurposed and recycled materials, and much more.

Curbed: How would you rank Chicagoland's sustainability in terms of residents' homes? What changes do we need to make to improve?

La Fleur: In general, our existing housing stock has a lot of room for improvement. One big area is not traditional and costly energy improvements such as window replacement or adding insulation, but by doing relatively inexpensive air sealing to stop drafts that account for 40% of your heat loss during winter.

Opportunities for improvement such as this is partially why we are doing the tour - to let people see that there are shades of green homes - some of which may already be attainable to them, particularly as folks start to do more home improvement and remodeling projects. There is no better time to improve your home's comfort, efficiency and health than when you're already revamping a kitchen or bathroom.
·Green Built Home Tour [official]
·Eco Achievers [official]
·USGBC, Illinois Chapter [official]
·Three Questions Posts [Curbed Chicago]

The Green Built Home Tour will run this Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21, from 10 am to 6 pm. Tickets are $25 for two people but La Fleur hooked you lucky Curbed readers up with a deal – $5 off with coupon code "green." View the tour map here.