Can This Home Be Greened? Earth-Friendly Expansion

A family needs growing room in their New York home—and they want it to be energy efficient.

| January/February 2008

Driving along the country road to Ann Rauch and Michael Goldblum’s house, it’s hard to believe you’re only a few subway stops from Manhattan. The Bronx, New York, 1930s-era, 1,770-square-foot home has a spacious front yard that provides an urban oasis for the couple and their children: Emma, 13, and Nathaniel, 10.

Though the location is ideal, the family is rapidly outgrowing the small home as the children get older. “Our shared bathroom feels smaller by the minute as our kids grow and spend more time there,” Ann says. In addition, Nathaniel is cramped in a half-bedroom, and there’s no room for entertaining: Dinner guests serve themselves buffet style, and the kids sit on the floor. The washing machine is squeezed into the crowded, galley-size kitchen.

The family recently decided to go ahead with the renovation they’ve been talking about for years. Michael, an architect, designed a 1,200-square-foot addition over the existing family room that will provide a new master bedroom, guest room, bathroom and laundry room. There will also be a build-out in the front and back of the house to create a dining area and sunroom. 

The renovation gives the family a chance to incorporate green building practices and reduce their high monthly energy bills. Their goal is to earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

1. Replace the inefficient windows

Problem: The existing windows lose energy, and some of them are difficult to open.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on natural health, organic gardening, real food and more!