Homeowner credits unique home for improved health

Homeowner credits unique home for improved health

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LUBBOCK -

A home in a west central Lubbock neighborhood may look ordinary, but it is far from it. It's the only energy-efficient building between Oklahoma and the southern Texas border awarded Emerald Level status from the National Green Building Standard.

The home, located at 4610 11th Street, has many unique qualities. It was a unique process for long-time builder Stewart Townsen.

“We had to be more precise in the products we used to build this house with,” he said. “We had to do other things than just do an energy efficient house. We had to get into other things of having products in this house that lend itself to not being called a sick house."

Lewrie Close and her husband have been in their new home nine months.

"So, it is so wonderful to live in a home that is making me healthy,” she said.

Lewrie's journey to this 'healthy home' starts in 1989. She became ill from what is known as Sick Building Syndrome. She was on the hunt for the whys. 

“How am I going to quit getting two allergy shots every two weeks and take a multitude of medicines including high dose steroids during asthmatic attacks,” she said.

Several years of research lead her to the study of building science. But plans to build a healthy home were delayed when her first home burned to the ground in 2012.

"God has his own time and things had to be done in his time,” Close said.

Construction on the same parcel of land for the Closes' dream home started in 2014. Peter Walper is a code inspector and Green Verifier with Texas Energy Raters.  He said this house is emerald, which is top of the line.

“The house is built were it has less than three air changes per hour which is an extremely tight home, which means we need to bring fresh air into the house to cycle out any stale air or any moist air, he said.

There are four levels to the National Green Building Standard. The highest is emerald.

“An emerald is pretty extensive,” Walper said. “It is probably I would say a 25-page checklist."

Every piece of furniture also had to pass the test. Interior designer Minnie Tennell had to pick certain fabrics, flooring and paint that don't emit gases.

"It was a challenge because I haven't really done every detail,” she said.  “You pick out paint, simple. You pick out stain colors. But when you add in all the things that had to meet requirements I just had to do a lot of studying and a lot of research and talked to a lot of people."

The home has three bedrooms, an elevator and is a Certified Wildlife Environment. 

"We had to do a lot of thing to conserve water,” Townsen said.  “We've got a gray water system, and another pit system that collects rain water off the house along with a well that is on the property. And we tie all of those with city water and we are able to do irrigations and things of that nature."

The biggest change is Lewrie's health. In the nine months since she's moved in, she hasn't been on steroids, and only takes an allergy shot once a month.

“To regain your health, to be able to breathe, to be able to talk, to not have to cough every time you speak, to no be on high dose steroids, there is no price you can put on that,” she said.

Townsen said builders are realizing the importance of building these healthy homes, and homeowners do see a big return. 

“We are hearing more and more of the terminology of sick houses, and we are getting away from that,” he said. “We are making the houses more healthy environment and they are going to be energy efficient. This house will probably run in the neighborhood of 50 percent of what a conventional house will run in utilities."

The home was built for resale. Lewrie said she hopes one day someone buys the home that needs it as much as she did.

Healthy home team:

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