When Chris and Sandy Ross—who met at Gettysburg College before living in New York, New Jersey and Oregon—decided they wanted an environmentally friendly home, a piece of land in Bryn Mawr presented itself.
A property on the first block of Franklin Avenue in Bryn Mawr seemed to provide good opportunities for natural light, and at 2,400 square feet, it would be a fairly small home.
"Less is more," said Philadelphia-based architect Anthony Miksitz. "I try to get clients to work smaller… If you build a 6,000-sq. ft. house and call it 'green,' it’s not green."
The previous property owner had torn down a home there with the intention of rebuilding but never did. The new owners also had the challenge of working around a large Japanese maple tree in the front yard.
The family wanted to make smart decisions that would pay off in the long run, Chris Ross said. For example, the floor is made of recycled wood from old barns in Lancaster. They also wanted an open design so they could cook in the kitchen and see into the living room.
The construction manager, Mark Janiczek of Wayne-based Janiczek Homes, LLC, said his company has a strong commitment to the green building movement and offers "Green 101" presentations at area real estate offices.
Planning on the property began about a year ago, and construction began six months ago. The finished product opened to tours Dec. 2.
"On the Main Line, it's very rare to see contemporary homes," Janiczek said. "This is maybe the third one we've done."
Some of the home’s features include a superior wall system that allows water to drain away from the house, and a gravel foundation allows water to drain through to prevent potential water leaks into the basement. This should also prevent moisture and mold, Janiczek said.
None of the building materials were formaldehyde-based, the hot water system is gas-fired and tank-less, and much of the lighting is LED with some conventional incandescent. They installed corn-based carpeting as opposed to petroleum-based nylon, and the siding is made of brown paper with color throughout so it doesn’t need to be painted.
The Ross family is also planning on putting in solar panels.
"We couldn’t be more pleased," Ross said. "There was not a decision we weren’t part of."