Member Spotlight: Green Design Comes Home

Universal Design Home
Backyard view of Rosemarie and Mark's home

Form and function come together in the new home of OEC members Rosemarie Rossetti and Mark Leder in Columbus, Ohio.

After a bicycle accident in 1998, Rosemarie was paralyzed from the waist down and their home at the time wasn't wheelchair accessible. So they set about building a new home.

But not just any home - one that would incorporate accessible, universal design, and green building features and technology.

“When people think of a sustainable home they picture the home being environmentally friendly and energy efficient. Another important element of a sustainable a home is the social sustainability element. If a home is not accessible it can’t be sustainable,” Rossetti said.

Rosemarie and her husband, Mark, worked alongside the architect, Patrick Manley, interior designers Mary Jo Peterson and Anna Lyon, and lighting designer Ardra Zinkon to create a home that suits both of their needs, and then some.  

The House

The house itself is a masterpiece. No detail has been left to chance and no option left unexplored.

The goal of building this house was to make everyday tasks easy for people with various levels of abilities, while also having minimal energy needs and maximizing natural resource conservation.

The 3,500-square-foot ranch style home features a 42” wide hallway and 36” wide interior and exterior doors to allow for wheelchair passage.

Hardwood and tile floors allow wheelchairs to move more freely throughout the home than carpets would, and an elevator provides access to the lower level and loft level of the home.

The kitchen - the heart of every home - has been designed for both sitting and standing heights, so that both Rosemarie and Mark can be comfortable when cooking and cleaning up. All the appliances are energy-efficient, as is the LED lighting.

The enormous shared master bedroom closet is much more than just a closet. It is a big room, right off of the master bathroom that includes an energy-efficient washer and dryer because, according to Rosemarie, it is much more efficient to have clothes storage and laundry appliances in one room.

Even the outdoor patio and gardens are universally friendly, and of course, green. The pavers for the patio and walkways have been installed in such a way as to allow the wheels of Rosemarie’s wheelchair to glide over them without getting stuck.

The pavers are also porous, allowing rainwater to seep underneath. This water is then recycled into their backyard rainwater harvesting feature so the water can be used to irrigate the landscape.

Green Features

One of the couple’s wishes is to own one of the first privately built homes in central Ohio to be certified as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). They have also applied for certification from the National Association of Home Builders National Green Building Program. The home has been given preliminary Energy Star certification.

Among the many green features and technologies of the house are:

  • Recycled and/or renewable resources were used in roofing, countertops, flooring, and insulation.
  • Factory built structural insulated exterior panels instead of on site wood studs and insulation in fill.
  • Concrete-and-foam basement wall system.
  • Energy efficient windows, appliances, lighting, heating, and cooling systems.
  • A recycled aluminum shingle roof featuring solar panels as well as six-foot overhangs that surround the home to provide shade and reduce solar heat gain in the summer.
  • A rainwater harvesting system used for landscape irrigation.
  • Low VOC-emitting products including matte finish wall paint.
  • LED lights throughout the home.
  • Permeable pavers in the patio that allow rain to pass through.

Universal Design

In addition to the sumptuous living space, Rosemarie and Mark are finishing the full basement to help fulfill the Universal Design Living Laboratory (UDLL) mission. The house is not just their home - it is their way of educating others about the importance of inclusive, sustainable design.

UDLL's mission is to bring about awareness of the quality of indoor and outdoor lifestyle through universal design, green building, safety, and healthy home construction practices to the public, construction, and design industries.

Tours of the UDLL were given in October as part of the 2012 Green Energy Ohio Tour. Rosemarie speaks around the country about the need for universal and green design to become more readily available and accessible to the general population.

For Your Home

Many of the environmentally friendly materials for Rosemarie and Mark's home were contributed by companies anxious to be involved in this universal design and green project.

But you don't need donations, or a big pocketbook, in order to take advantage of green features in your own home. In fact, over the life of a product, the energy or water savings can far outpace the original cost of the eco-friendly product.

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