Home Innovation Insights

Insights from NGBS Green MASTER Verifier Drew Smith.

Voice of the Verifier: Drew Smith, NGBS Green MASTER Verifier on the 2021 TNAR Show Home

June 16, 2021

Drew Smith, NGBS Green MASTER VerifierAbout Drew Smith:

Drew Smith has been involved in green building for nearly 20 years and is the Chief Operating Officer of Two Trails, Inc., a company focused on green building consulting and certification. He formed the company out of a desire to help builders, developers, and homeowners understand the green building process and bring their green projects to life. Drew’s wide-ranging industry experience includes being appointed as the Green Building representative on the Florida Building Commission, as well appointed as a National Director for NAHB and a State Director for the Florida HBA. Drew believes his "hands-on" consultant style really helps his clients and makes the entire subcontractor base more knowledgeable, thus raising the level of cohesive education at all levels in a green building project. In addition to being an NGBS Green MASTER Verifier, Drew is currently the Chair of the Green Building Council of the state HBA, a Trustee on the Future Builders of America Foundation, and a member of the U.S. Green Building Council.

The New American Remodel: Retro, Innovative, Green

For the last several years, my company, Two Trails, Inc., has been fortunate to be selected as the NGBS Green Verifier for The New American Remodel (TNAR) project. Each year, TNAR serves as a showcase home for industry professionals and consumers to see how older homes, regardless of their current performance issues, can be renovated to be more efficient, healthier, better suited to modern lifestyle needs, and more beautiful, all at the same time. While few existing homes can incorporate all of TNAR’s features or meet its remarkable performance metrics, it can help guide and inspire more modest renovations.

The 2021 TNAR, which was featured at the International Builders’ Show earlier this year, draws inspiration from a variety of mid-century modern architects. Originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright protégé, Roger Allen Leibin, and built in 1973, the home was set on multiple levels, creating separate living spaces. When designing for the New American Remodel, the team wanted to keep the home’s design fundamentals, but update it for the modern family. The new design takes cues from famed architect and founder of the Sarasota Modernist Movement, Paul Rudolph – embracing cubed structural elements and capturing the outdoors from every floor.

When the client first purchased the home, there were several structural challenges to overcome. The building envelope was failing, the roof was sagging, and the varying ceiling heights presented an interesting puzzle for E2 Homes to solve. The goal of the remodel was to keep the home’s integrity intact, while enhancing the lake views and opening the floor plan. Through some unique tactics, such as lowering slabs and incorporating ceiling details, the home now features large spacious rooms with higher ceilings, allowing for expansive views on all floors.

The 2021 New American Remodel has 6,349 square feet of living space, including a separate 875 square foot cabana with a yoga studio, office, kitchen, and a bedroom. The open, multi-level floor plan features six bedrooms, six full bathrooms and one-half bathroom, seamless indoor and outdoor living spaces separated by large sliding or folding glass doors, a lanai with a gourmet summer kitchen, a large pool and spa with a kid’s splash pad, and a mid-century inspired modern dock with a hydraulic platform lift.

One of the most notable aesthetic renovation features was the enhanced views of Lake Sue. The original home had solid wood exterior railings and large trees blocking the views of both the house and lake. Updated landscaping and expansive folding glass doors now allow for lakefront views on the entire second floor and most of the home.

In addition to the home’s structural challenges, the building envelope had several energy inefficiencies. During the initial testing phase that we conducted, it was determined the home was one of the worst performing homes to date for a New American Remodel - with a HERS Index of 147, a whopping 47% less efficient than the average new code-built home.

Post-renovation, the 2021 New American Remodel earned NGBS Green certification at the Emerald level, and scored a HERS Index of -10. A huge improvement! Without including the benefits of the solar array, the home has a HERS Index of 44, which is 56% more efficient than the average, new code-built home. In addition to NGBS Green certification, the home is ENERGY STAR certified, recognized as a DOE Zero Energy Ready Home, and Indoor airPLUS rated. The home incorporates high-efficiency solar panels to power its electrical systems, which are projected to provide 100% of the annual energy needs for the home. The home was constructed to produce more energy than it was designed to consume, and this positioned the home to be among the first single-family homes to earn the NGBS Green+ NET ZERO ENERGY badge. To reduce water consumption, low flow plumbing fixtures, on-demand hot water recirculation , drought tolerant landscaping, and artificial turf were incorporated into the design. Walkability, access to community amenities, and low-emission products contributed to the home also earning the NGBS Green+ WELLNESS badge, which recognizes homes that are higher-performing across several categories that impact human health.

While the home is highly technical from an energy and sustainability standpoint, the design of this year’s New American Remodel stays true to its original form, bridging the gap between old and new. This home is a true example of how you can breathe new life into what was already a modern masterpiece, while updating it for the modern family.

For more details, you can read our full NGBS Green case study. You can also view photos and a 3D tour on the TNAR website.

Thanks for your insights, Drew! Check back for more “Verifier Takeover” posts in the Home Innovation Insights blog in the coming weeks.