School Street Homes, Sarah Susanka and Priority Energy Present a New Model for Housing Success

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'Not So Big®' Showhouse will open for public tours on November 19, allowing the public to experience first-hand how SchoolStreet has cracked the code for housing success

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The EPA's certification of a HERS Rated Energy Star Home

Homes achieve this level of performance through a combination of energy-efficient measures including effective insulation systems, high-performance windows, tight construction and air ducts and efficient heating and cooling.

'Not So Big®' Showhouse will open for public tours on November 19, allowing the public to experience first-hand how SchoolStreet has cracked the code for housing success

There’s a vibrant community just outside of Chicago that is cracking the code for housing success. SchoolStreet, a walkable, front-porch community of 26 beautifully designed single-family houses and 15 urban-style lofts, is bucking national housing trends. A key ingredient to SchoolStreet’s success is the Not So Big® Showhouse, designed by Sarah Susanka, FAIA, acclaimed architect and bestselling author of The Not So Big House series. The Showhouse features all the hallmarks of Susanka’s Not So Big design, incorporates leading products, cutting edge building science, and energy efficient technology such as Aeroseal duct sealing from Chicago-based energy solutions company, Priority Energy.

Smart Design, Smart Showhouse
As certified HERS raters, Priority Energy joined the team as the energy auditing and energy efficiency consultants for the development. ”We all felt strongly about the Not So Big concept and wanted it to carry through to the energy use, operating costs, and overall comfort of the home. We wanted these to be some of the most efficient and comfortable new homes on the market,” said Rob Schildgen, owner and CEO of Priority Energy. ”At that point it was decided we would follow the Energy Star guidelines and have these homes certified.” To earn the ENERGY STAR label, a home must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); making them more than 20-30% more efficient than even new homes being built to the newly nationally adopted IECC 2009 code. Homes achieve this level of performance through a combination of energy–efficient measures including Effective Insulation Systems, High–Performance Windows, Tight Construction and Air Ducts, and Efficient Heating and Cooling. The Not So Big® Showhouse went a step further by meeting the new Energy Star 3.0 guidelines which will not be officially adopted until 2012.

Priority Energy HERS raters worked closely with SchoolStreet Homes throughout the construction process to oversee the implementation of advanced framing techniques, spray foam insulation, and high performance heating, ventilation and cooling equipment. The Priority Energy team conducted on–site diagnostic testing utilizing state-of-the-art air tightness testing equipment, infrared and other performance testing equipment to document the home’s eligibility to earn the ENERGY STAR label.

The Not So Big Showhouse
SchoolStreet is right off the main street in the Village of Libertyville, Ill., and approximately 30 miles north of downtown Chicago. The location, combined with the charming bungalow-influenced house designs and attainable prices make SchoolStreet an unbeatable value. Twenty one of 26 houses have sold in just under a year. The lofts were released for sale in June and five sold in the first eight weeks.

“The Not So Big Showhouse is a landmark event. This is the first time that Sarah Susanka has agreed to design a house for a venture such as SchoolStreet. So naturally, we’ve been selective about choosing quality products and services for the house,” said John McLinden, developer of SchoolStreet Homes. “The Showhouse, currently under construction, will be absolutely stunning. It features all the outstanding elements of Not So Big design, plus innovative home products and cutting edge, energy saving technology. The developers, with Priority Energy as their verifiying firm, have strictly adhered to the recently instituted IECC 2009 building verification codes in their construction process. These building codes have been put in place to ensure certain energy efficiency systems have been used and are properly functioning. In doing this, these SchoolStreet homes will have annual utility costs that are at least $500 less than other comparable new homes. We can’t wait for everyone to experience what Not So Big is all about when we open the doors on November 19.”

A New Model for Today’s Lifestyle
For more than ten years, Susanka has been highly regarded for her “build better, not bigger” approach to residential architecture. Now more than ever, with the current housing crisis, Susanka’s leadership in house and community design is in high-demand. “In today’s new economic reality, Not So Big principles offer a new vision for the home of the future – not too big and not too small, but just right for this budget-conscious, sustainability minded era. The Not So Big Showhouse will give homeowners and professionals an unprecedented opportunity to actually experience what Not So Big is all about – from the context of the broader community, right down to the details and products featured within each space,” said Susanka.

The Showhouse emphasizes the hallmarks of Not So Big: quality and character, comfort and beauty, energy efficiency and sustainability. Gone are the unused formal spaces. The remaining spaces are tailored to fit today’s more informal lifestyles. In short, the Showhouse is designed for the way people really live with design and details that transform a house into “Home.”

The Showhouse will be released for sale on the grand opening weekend, November 19. In addition, three other versions of Susanka’s design for SchoolStreet are available to interested buyers, each featuring a unique exterior street face. The Not So Big Showhouse is approximately 2,450 square feet. Floor plans and perspective drawings are available online at

About SchoolStreet Homes
With their American Craftsman and Bungalow design character, SchoolStreet’s Front Porch Revival homes blend seamlessly with the historic turn-of-the-century homes in the neighborhood. A key factor in “cracking the code for housing success” is SchoolStreet’s process for customizing each of the homes through an architect-guided design process while keeping in strict adherence to its cost-control model. With a team of leading service and product suppliers providing a wide range of selections for the purchaser, SchoolStreet features 26 homes along with a historic school that will be transformed into 15 urban lofts. The development is located one block from Libertyville’s vibrant downtown, blocks from a commuter rail train station and approximately 30 miles from downtown Chicago. Homes start at $525,000 and lofts start at $175,000.

About Sarah Susanka, FAIA,
Susanka is the best-selling author of nine books that collectively weave together home and lifestyle, revealing that a Not So Big attitude serves not only architectural aims, but life goals as well. Her books have sold well over 1.2 million copies and established Susanka as a sought-after resource for her insights into how we inhabit our homes, our planet and even our day-to-day lives. Susanka is a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects and a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council. Builder Magazine recognizes Susanka as one of the 30 most notable innovators in the housing industry over the past 30 years. She was born in Kent, England, and lives in North Carolina.

About Priority Energy, LLC
Priority Energy is a nationally recognized ENERGY STAR certified Home Energy Rater holding both RESNET® rating and training provider status and BPI certification and training provider status. Priority Energy was chosen by the EPA to consult on the new ENERGY STAR standards and continuing education curriculum. Most of the Midwest has instituted the IECC 2009 building code as their new construction standard. In order for a project to attain this certification, the building must be tested by an approved verification firm, such as Priority Energy. In addition, Priority Energy is one of the only Aeroseal dealers in the Midwest and services Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. In 2010, Priority Energy audited over one-million square feet of residential and commercial space.

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