North Lawndale Deep Energy Retrofit |3141 W 15th Street Chicago, IL 60623 view map 
Masonry structured building demonstrating that even old, urban dwellings can be retrofitted to reduce their environmental impact

SIZE: 4,500 square feet (three units total)

Native/ adaptive plantings
Low flow plumbing fixtures
Rain water collection
Salvaged or recycled materials
Construction waste management plan
Low VOC products and finishes
Building ventilation system
No natural-draft combustion appliances  
Pipe and heating supply/ return lines insulation
Fully insulated building envelope
EMT use to reduce the impact of EMF
Drain Water Heat Recover Device
On-demand hot water system
Bathroom moisture management 

ComEd Rebates and Discounts



Tour this exceptional deep energy retrofit of a 117-year-old Chicago masonry two flat and discover how old urban dwellings can be retrofitted to make our homes healthier and more economic to run, own, and live in.

The owners used a system-wide approach to turn this former energy hog into a net zero energy building, targeting LEED for Home Platinum.

To accomplish these goals, the owner commissioned an energy model at the inception of the design process to set a project baseline. Building science principles, particularly on the issue of moisture management, were key factors in the decision-making process. Envelope treatment, reduction in thermal bridging, glazing, ventilation and heating and cooling were approached as one system. Technologies the project relied on include: spray foam for air sealing, high efficiency hydronic heating system, ductless air-source heat pump, triple glazed IGU’s, enthalpy recovery ventilator, an efficient domestic hot water delivery system with a DWHR unit, and EMF management.

Affordability was a key goal to show that a deep energy retrofit doesn’t have to break the bank. Budget decisions were made on a long-term return on investment basis including reduction in energy usage, resilience, comfort and redundancies, rather than the cheapest available short term option.

The application of building science principles and diligent Q/A and Q/C throughout the rehab process are quantifiable. The most recent blower door test results confirmed an airtightness of 0.62 ACH50 (or 0.05 cfm50 per square foot of gross envelope area). Preliminary performance results show a reduction in heating (natural gas) by ≥66% and reduction in electrical consumption by ≥50%.

The project is in one of Chicago’s poorest communities, which also has one of the highest density of Graystone buildings in the country. Because of the socioeconomic state of the community, many of these beautiful structures suffer from deferred maintenance, which subsequently translates into significant energy inefficiencies. This, in turn, compounds the economic stress on the community’s homeowners and tenants.

This deep energy retrofit stands out in the community as an example of what could and should be. Because the owners utilized local labor resources, the word started to spread on what was different about this project and why, and local homeowners began to inquire about building insulation, replacement windows, etc.