AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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Factor 10 House (F10)

Factor 10 House's modular design minimizes waste of materials and allows for off-site assembly. The siding, visible in this photo, is made of reconstituted cement and colored with a low-emission stain. The wrap-around deck is constructed from certified Ipe, a Brazilian hardwood that naturally resists rot, decay, insects, and mold. This strong, dense wood whose expected lifespan is more than 25 years, is naturally fire resistant and harvested from naturally sustainable forests.
Photo credit: Doug Snower Photography


  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Building type(s): Single-family residential
  • New construction
  • 1,830 ft2 (170 m2)
  • Project scope: 2-story building
  • Urban setting
  • Completed August 2003
    Construction was delayed for two years because the City of Chicago went through three separate contractors.
  • Rating: HERS --Level: 86

In 2000, the City of Chicago Departments of Environment and Housing sponsored a national competition to identify creative modifications to their existing New Homes for Chicago program that incorporate innovative, sustainable building practices. Factor 10 House's cutting edge design was one of five affordable case-study designs chosen for construction and was completed in summer 2003.

F10's design is a straightforward response to four primary considerations: a narrow City site with adjacent buildings, a a modular design, an open 1,234-ft2 floor plan plus a 605-ft2 conditioned, unfinished basement, and a solar chimney incorporated into the stairwell.

Chosen as an AIA Top Ten Green Project for 2004. Submitted by Esherick Homsey Dodge & Davis, Chicago, IL. Additional project team members are listed on the "Process" screen.

Environmental Aspects

F10 strives to reduce life-cycle environmental impacts by a factor of 10 compared to the average home built in America today.

The modular design works within industry's dimensional constraints, minimizing waste and allowing off-site assembly. The open floor plan enhances cross ventilation, and the window placement maximizes reflected light into the interior of the home while reducing glare. The solar chimney includes a south-facing clerestory window, bringing natural light to the core of the house. The site work includes low-maintenance fescue, pavers, and a green roof to minimize storm water runoff, making the entire site permeable.

Heating is generated by an efficient gas-fired boiler and distributed through perimeter baseboards; cooling is by natural ventilation. Augmented by a whole-house fan, the solar chimney's shaft was designed to pull warm air up and out of the house in summer and push warm air down in winter. A wall of water bottles acts as a heat sink in winter. Materials were selected for their durability and low production impact. These include fly-ash concrete, Ipe harvested from managed forests, cork floors, carpet made from recycled soda bottles, fiber-cement siding, low-VOC paints, and cellulose insulation made from recycled paper.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by Individual(s)
  • Typically occupied by 1 person, 100 hours per person per week; and 2 visitors per week, 3 hours per visitor per week

The City of Chicago's Department of Environment and Department of Housing commissioned the house through their Green Homes for Chicago program with the intention of selling the house to an individual buyer. This individual bought the house and currently resides there.

Building Programs

Indoor Spaces:

Living quarters (100%)

Outdoor Spaces:

Parking (15%)


Integrated team, Green specifications, Commissioning, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Insulation levels, Glazing, Passive solar, Recycled materials, Certified wood, Daylighting, Natural ventilation, Low-emitting materials

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Last updated: 4/22/2004

Our thanks to the ENERGY STAR program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and to the U.S. Department of Energy, and to BuildingGreen, Inc. for hosting the submission and judging forms.

For more information about the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects, contact AIA/COTE. For help on how to use this Web site, contact .

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