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First on the Block

This duplex of two luxury homes in the Water Hill neighborhood were Ann Arbor's first LEED Platinum and LEED Gold certified homes. Built on spec by Meadowlark, they were among the first projects in the area using Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF's) and Structural Insulated Panels (SIP's). Designed for centuries of efficient operation and arranged to fit gracefully in an older neighborhood, these homes are still cutting edge 12 years later.


In 2006, the owners of Meadowlark lived around the corner and knew the owner of several rental homes in the neighborhood. The home on this site was partly an old chicken coop that was converted to a small house. The house was small and in poor repair, but the lot was large and zoned for two houses, as long as they were attached by a common wall.

The owners of Meadowlark had recently founded the company. As new building company owners, they wanted to design and build ultra-efficient homes, but lacked the resumé to take on larger projects. They took the opportunity to showcase their work, designing and building two LEED-certified homes.

The Team

Architecture & Design Team: Larry Maciag, Doug Selby, Kirk Brandon

Project Management: Larry Maciag, Doug Selby, Kirk Brandon


Schematic Design

To make the project work economically, two homes would have to be built on one site, and they must be joined by at least one common wall. The Water Hill neighborhood was transitional at the time, so premium quality building was risky, but the builders deemed it necessary to showcase their work. Deep green building, making at least one unit LEED Platinum certified, was also a goal. Last, the homes had to be well-designed so that the layouts would attract as many buyers as possible.

Design Development

  • Stagger the houses on the lot so that the garages were the only adjoining parts of the homes
  • Build with ICF's and SIPs and geothermal energy for extreme energy efficiency
  • Create open and flexible floor plans that could be easily customized

The Results

Ultimately, both homes sold in time to have the interior walls and all finishes selected by each buyer. The homes achieved lofty LEED Platinum and LEED Gold certification; built as a model of energy and water conservation, as well as healthy finishes and ecological building methods. The owners later put solar panels on the south-facing roof, making the homes become nearly net-zero in their energy usage.

For Meadowlark, this project put the company on the map. We hosted educational tours on green building while working on this home and discovered an unmet demand for healthy, comfortable and efficient homes. We have upped the ante in cutting edge green building ever since.

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