Not every homeowner gets to enjoy a lush, blooming, seven-foot-tall Juneberry tree in the yard. Especially not if that yard is on the roof.
At Sheldon Crossing, a new development of townhomes on Sheldon Street in Manayunk, every house will have a private green roof with landscaped flowerbeds, trees (like the Juneberry atop the model home), a fireplace and a deck. It’s not only additional living space, says developer Denise Lehmann, it’s also environmentally friendly: The vegetation acts as insulation for the home, lowering electricity use. It also soaks up storm water, preventing it from flowing into the already overtaxed public sewer system.
And the green features don’t stop there. Inside, homebuyers will find energy-efficient insulation and windows, VOC-free paint, geothermal heating and Energy Star appliances.
But, Lehmann laments, they don’t seem to care.
“Unfortunately, what I’ve found is that people aren’t really buying into the idea of energy efficiency, because it’s still a fairly new concept,” she says. “There are options for upgrades, to be even greener, but people aren’t going for them.”
Instead, buyers are spending their “upgrade” money mimicking some of the more unusual design details Lehmann shows off in Sheldon Crossing’s model home, like a fireplace clad in coconut shells and a bathroom floor made of recycled blackboards.
The good news, eco-wise, is that since many of the green features come standard, buyers get them anyway. The development is slated to officially receive LEED Platinum status sometime this spring.
The first buyers, Danielle and Devin Smith, are closing on their home this month.
Going green wasn’t high on their priority list, but they did wind up being impressed by the eco-friendly features. “I can’t say I’m at the forefront of the sustainability movement,” Danielle says, “but once you learn how everything works, you realize it’s nothing but beneficial.”