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Housing
Green Generation design-build team Alex Melamed, left, and Andrew Kline are developing the six remaining lots at Thistle Creek on King Street. They’re offering two home designs that emphasize low-maintenance living and energy efficiency. The young builders intend to finish the development, begun in 2005 by local builder Jonathan Brown. (Photo by Audrey Hackett)

Green Generation design-build team Alex Melamed, left, and Andrew Kline are developing the six remaining lots at Thistle Creek on King Street. They’re offering two home designs that emphasize low-maintenance living and energy efficiency. The young builders intend to finish the development, begun in 2005 by local builder Jonathan Brown. (Photo by Audrey Hackett)

Green Generation builders to finish Thistle Creek

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Eleven years after local builder Jonathan Brown began developing 4.2 acres at Thistle Creek, two young builders are poised to finish off the King Street development. Six lots remain in the neighborhood, and Andrew Kline and Alex Melamed, of the design-build firm Green Generation, have designs “set and ready,” said Melamed, to build homes there. Local Re/Max realtor Rick Kristensen is brokering the sales. The land is still owned by local electronics distributor Roy Eastman, who had partnered with Brown to develop previous Thistle Creek homes.

Kline and Melamed are perhaps best known for building four passive homes in Yellow Springs, one of them, at 515 Dayton St., the first certified passive house in Ohio. With the new project, the design-build partners are taking their work in a different direction.

“There’s a lack of new housing stock in Yellow Springs,” Kline said recently. “We hope to address that with this project.”

Green Generation’s concept for Thistle Creek is to build reasonably affordable homes “designed for modern living” that are low maintenance and energy efficient, according to Melamed, the design half of the team. Real estate in Yellow Springs is relatively expensive, Kline noted, and many of the homes on the market require significant renovation or updates, compounding the purchase price.

By contrast, the two home designs the firm is offering are priced at $229,000 for a 1,400 square foot model with 2 bedrooms/2 baths and a large loft, and $249,000 for an 1,800 square foot model with 3 bedrooms/2 baths and a smaller loft. Unlike older homes on the market, “these won’t require maintenance for 10 to 15 years,” said Kline.

While the new homes are not passive houses, they will incorporate building techniques drawn from passive house construction, according to Kline. Specifically, the homes will be built “tight” and will include a distributed fresh air and heat recycling system that Melamed described as “little ports in the wall with a heat recovery core that looks like a ceramic honeycomb.” Though this system is readily available, it’s not in wide use in conventional housing construction, he said.

The homes also will have radiant heat, which “people can integrate with solar hot water if they want to,” said Kline, a step that would add to the cost.

“All of these homes can be made more energy efficient,” said Kline. “If homebuyers are willing to pay more, we can customize them in various ways.”

But Kline and Melamed emphasized that they’re seeking to strike a balance between energy efficiency and upfront costs with their home designs for Thistle Creek.

“There’s no doubt that highly energy efficient homes require more materials and more design, so there’s more upfront cost — but they save you money in the long run,” said Melamed. The Thistle Creek homes are more energy efficient than conventional homes, he said, while the purchase price is lower than a “passive all the way on carbon” home would be.

Other innovations drawn from green home design include slightly thicker walls, energy-efficient Pella windows, concrete floors and fiber-cement siding, an environmentally friendlier choice than conventional vinyl, according to Melamed.

Thistle Creek has been a site of experimentation from the start. Beginning in 2005, Brown built six Home, Inc. homes on the site, all of them designed for solar gain and energy efficiency. In the next few years, several lots were purchased by buyers who built market-rate, single-family homes. Building slowed with the market crash, according to Re/Max realtor Kristensen, then in 2011, Brown and Eastman developed three passive homes on spec. Today, there are 13 homes in the neighborhood — an eclectic mix of designs — with six more lots available for building by Green Generation.

But the neighborhood’s experimentation extends beyond building techniques. The site is zoned using a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, ordinance, which allowed Brown to subdivide it into small plots. The lots are small, but they share a common green space, mostly woods. And because Brown favored “low-impact construction,” said Kline, many trees were undisturbed, giving the neighborhoods a “woodsy” feel. Thistle Creek borders the Glass Farm wetland, over seven acres of land that Tecumseh Land Trust, with a grant from Clean Ohio, is putting under easement.

“It’s a unique, cozy neighborhood,” said Kline. It’s a miniature village — “a miniature Yellow Springs,” he added.

Green Generation’s involvement in the final phase of Thistle Creek came about through an agreement with landowner Eastman, who was seeking developers for the remaining lots, according to Kline.

“When the opportunity came up, we thought about it for a while and decided we wanted to go ahead. We’re happy to be taking this on,” said Kline.

Melamed sees the firm’s work at Thistle Creek as a continuation of a local legacy. “There’s been a slow handshake — a baton pass — between local green builders,” he said. Each builder has done “creative things” at Thistle Creek, he added, a trend Green Generation hopes to continue.

As the latest generation in a local line of green building experimenters, Kline and Melamed have been working together since 2009, when Kline, in partnership with his father-in-law, Roi Qualls, founded Green Generation. Kline is a 2003 graduate of Antioch College, where he majored in environmental studies. He’s “always been into building things,” he said, and Green Generation combines that interest with his environmental ethos. Melamed, who describes himself as “an environmentalist and artistically inclined,” has a master’s of architecture degree from Savannah College of Art and Design. He joined Green Generation in late 2009, working with Kline on the firm’s certified passive home, then left Yellow Springs for two years, returning in 2012 to settle in the village.

With their new project, the two business partners and friends are staking a claim on a piece of Yellow Springs development history. All six of the lots await buyers; Green Generation and Re/Max have just recently begun to market the homes.

“They’re starting to spread their wings in Yellow Springs,” said Kristensen.

To learn more, contact Kline at 937-361-9705 or visit the firm’s new website for the project, http://www.greengenohio.com/thistlecreek.

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Green Generation builders to finish Thistle Creek

by Audrey Hackett