House Tour: Amy’s Green House Goes Platinum

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Amy
Occupation: Real Estate Agent
Location: Mt. Pleasant in Washington, DC
Type: row house built in the late 1800’s
Size: 1900 sq/ft
Years lived in: owned for 2 (renovations took a year)


(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

A real estate broker for over 8 years, Amy was tired of seeing the bad quality of homes being quickly but inefficiently built. Amy set herself the goal of proving to builders that an energy efficient home made from local resources is less costly in the long-run. Mt. Pleasant was the perfect place because of the similar neighboring houses, which can be easily compared…

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Using environmentally-friendly products and design, Amy completely revamped her house. Amy’s goal was to minimize the environmental impact of renovation and create an energy-efficient home using local resources. Along with the exposed brick walls, the floors were the only part of the original house that didn’t need to be gutted.

The systems, like the solar water heater, were the most expensive, but they are what make the home truly green. Amy used local resources wherever possible, like the walnut and mulberry lumber chosen for the trim, window sills and breakfast bar that came from felled trees in Montgomery County, MD and provided by Treincarnation . She also installed acrylic roofing and recycled materials, including concrete bricks, carpet tiles and drywall.

While the upfront costs were high, Amy’s renovations are already paying for themselves. She is saving more than a third in utility bills each month compared to her neighbors. The house received platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council – the highest possible certification. Amy’s house is the first LEED certified house in DC, and the first historical house in the U.S. to be certified platinum.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

AT Survey:

Style: Contemporary and country, warm and neutral but modern.

Inspiration: Proving that installing high quality, energy-efficiency products and local resources is more sustainable and cost effective in the long term.

Favorite Aspect: The roof deck. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine, hang out with friends and sleep under the stars.

Proudest Aspect: Surviving the DC government. One-on-one, the staff were very cool but, as usual in DC, the big bureaucratic system was the problem.

Proudest Design Aspect: Creating something new in a space built in the late 1800’s.

Biggest Embarrassment: Used to be the front yard, but that was recently fixed.

What Friends Say About Amy’s Place: They are totally wowed. They went through the process with me, and saw what the house was like before I renovated. Neighbors love the feeling of depth and openness on the main floor.

Dream Resource: Durat bathtub made from recycled materials (costs over $10,000).

Best Advice Given or Received: Each piece in your home should be important to you. Filling in the blank with catalogue furniture is not creating a home.


Floors: Original hardwood floors. Parts of the original floors were moved around to suit the new layout of the house.

Furniture and Accessories: Ikea, Craigslist, Millenium, stores on the U Street Corridor, Community Forklift, Second Chance in Baltimore.

Landscaping: All DC-native trees and plants, including paw-paw trees, blueberry bushes, oak leaf hydrangea, huckleberry, native ferns and creeping flocks.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Artwork: All art was recovered from the basement of the house. I found 28 paintings buried in dirt in the basement. About 5 or 6 were damaged beyond repair. I had the rest cleaned and hung in the house. I later found out that the paintings were all by E.J. Marlin, a renowned local artist. Marlin lived in the house while a student at the Corcoran College of Art and Design. The former house owner allowed his tenant Marlin to trade art for rent. The paintings, which were created in the house in the 1960s, belong in the house.

Amy’s website has an extensive list of local resources for green building materials.

– Rachael Grad