Building Urban, Building Green

January/February 2007
A version of this article appears in the January/February 2007 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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January 01, 2007
The advantages of building a green home in a compact city center overrule the headaches of remediating a brownfield site for this Milwaukee family.
In 2002, my husband, Mike Kaufmann, and I set out to better align our lives with our values of personal responsibility, commitment to urban community, and environmental sustainability. Since a house is the biggest financial investment and the most significant consumption of products we will likely make in our lifetime, we decided to build a green home as an embodiment of these values.  After extensive research, we chose a contaminated city lot located within the fabric of Walker’s Point, a historic Milwaukee neighborhood. The city of Milwaukee had acquired the lot through foreclosure in 1980. At that time, older structures that had existed on the property had been demolished, leaving a vacant parcel of land. Because soil contamination was suspected, the lot sat vacant for nearly a quarter of a century, despite its location in a community with significant redevelopment potential. An environmental investigative report, known as a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, was finally commissioned by the city of Milwaukee in September 2000, in preparation for making the parcel available for redevelopment. This report identified the previous owners of, and uses at, the site, including a Pabst Guard Armory, a junk dealer, and a waste materials and paper facility. ...

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