Solidago condo exterior
The Solidago condominium in Washington, DC's Petworth neighborhood. Photo courtesy of
We are all painfully aware that the bottom dropped out of the housing market a few years ago. Home prices tanked; banks reverted to draconian lending policies; owners couldn’t pay their mortgage. Voila! — the Great Recession. It’s surprising then to see an explosion of buildings such as The Solidago condominium, a green-built, three-unit complex in Washington, DC, on the market. The layouts of the three units vary slightly. Unit 1 has an 860-square-foot interior offering two bedrooms and one bathroom. Units 2 and 3 are both 1,060 square feet with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. What is exceptional is the new, green features offered in each. The Solidago mixed in seemingly all the eco-friendly elements and practices known to man for this once-rundown set of row houses to become LEED Platinum certified, the highest rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. The three primary areas of focus for the renovation and construction of this property were preserving the history of the structure, maximizing efficiency and promoting healthy living of the occupants. All three goals were accomplished by, at least in part, adhering to key recycling practices. Digging into the history of the complex — located in the Petworth area of DC, known for its endless brick row houses — reveals that two of the three row houses were originally constructed in 1917. Over the years, the property fell into decrepit condition and was eventually boarded up, covered in grime and battered by weather and water damage. But underneath the horrid façade waited a historic timepiece. Now a shining example of environmentally sensitive reconstruction, The Solidago boasts many original, reclaimed pieces complemented with all the comforts of today.
Solidago condo interior
A kitchen in The Solidago. Photo courtesy of
Many modern elements also help to reduce reliance on resources, thus providing a greener future for us all. Strategies that were used to mitigate energy use included:
  • Spray-foam insulation and detailed air sealing
  • High-performance windows and doors
  • Highly efficient heating and cooling equipment
  • Highly efficient water heating
  • Energy Star appliances
  • Highly efficient lighting features
  • Solar power outfitting on each unit
The exterior of the building played a big part in the efficiency efforts as well. These condos seem to have really gone the extra mile through their storm water management. In fact, the units retain 100% of the rainwater that hits the property for reuse. This helps the municipal utilities by removing a certain amount of water from the public system, saving work and energy on collecting and purifying water collected in city drains. For many homebuilders, the above features would be the end of their attempts to “go green.” But, for those that built The Solidago, that was just the beginning. Low-flow faucets and Energy Star appliances do their part to conserve water usage throughout the home. To boot, an emphasis was put on improving indoor air quality by removing unhealthy elements and replacing them with safer ones — low VOC paints and coatings, smarter design and increased airflow. Recycling and repurposing materials was at the heart of the renovation process as well. The construction professionals used on this project were able to save roughly 7 tons of material from hitting a nearby landfill by recycling more than 50% of the new construction waste. Removing, refinishing and reinstalling original pieces add Old World charm not found in new home construction. The Solidago’s interior catches the eye with all-original trim, doors, jambs, door hardware, windows, framing, lighting and fixtures. Some stairs, hardwood flooring and brick detail was also refinished. As well, the vinyl siding on the backside of the building is made from 50% recycled materials. The question, of course, is if all these green elements contribute to the overall worth of and desire for the structure. Well, if you’re inclined to believe the Los Angeles Times article on the matter, it sure seems likely. For me, it would not at all be surprising to see more and more buildings like The Solidago as more buyers demand homes that concurrently preserve historical value, increase quality of life and help protect nature through conservation. For the curious readers out there, all three Solidago units quickly sold despite the housing downturn. Unit one sold for $271,500; unit two for $364,000; unit three for $391,400.