Three Green houses: The one on the far left has been sold; the agents "bid" on the housees on the right.

THE LOCATION Humboldt Park

THE LISTING This four-bedroom house is one of a trio built by Grun Development, whose owner, Paul Ahlrich, uses "hyper-insulation" to reduce energy consumption. (He even puts down an insulating pad on the soil before the foundation is poured.)

Tests have demonstrated that Ahlrich’s homes use only about 35 percent of the energy needed to cool and heat conventionally built houses. Last July, Ahlrich sold the corner house for $923,000 (its interior is pictured here); as of February, the other two had not yet been sold.


Deal Estate walked through one of the unsold houses with three real-estate agents, who made their best (hypothetical) offers.




"Paul’s approach to building makes it affordable to buy something green," said Mc Ewen, who used to live on the same block as this house. "He’s knowledgeable and diligent about the methods he uses. There’s value in that long-term energy savings." On top of that, Mc Ewen considered the neighborhood a big draw, with its nearby restaurants and nightclubs and its many new houses. "This is where you get million-dollar homes for less than $900,000," he said.

Helios Real Living Realty

"This is how green homes should be done," Fox said, pointing to the house’s high-efficiency water heater, the nontoxic paints and varnishes, and the cabinets made from sustainable wood. "He’s not charging extra for any of those," said Fox, who specializes in green residential real estate. "The only thing I can argue with is that [the house] has a big footprint, which doesn’t help on sustainability—
but you do have to give that to people if they want it."

Ace Development

Stan-Tsanov, a real-estate agent developing a condo building a block away from the Grun houses, arrived with little understanding of green construction practices. Then the owner of Ahlrich’s corner house told Stan-Tsanov that his December gas bill had been only $171—less than half what she had expected. "It’s amazing the kind of money you can save living here," she said. "And it’s such a nice house. I didn’t expect something this sophisticated to be green."





Photography: (interiors) Chris Guillen, (EXTERIOR) Courtesy of Rubloff  Illustration: Courtesy of the Museum of Science and Industry