City program helps green bungalows

October 16, 2009 (CHICAGO) Some city programs could help bungalow owners do it at little or no cost. The historic Chicago Bungalow Association works in partnership with the city of Chicago Department of Housing to preserve a Chicago treasure. They also are trying to make the classic housing style greener.

Victor Harbison never thought much about bungalows or living in Marquette Park. He just knew he wanted a home for his family.

"We were coming from yuppie-ville. We lived in a 2000 square foot loft in Wicker Park and yet statistically, this neighborhood actually had less crime," Harbison said.

The high school teacher took advantage of a program that allowed him to purchase a newly renovated home at an affordable price. The city rehabbed four abandoned houses on this block of historic bungalows in an effort to revitalize the neighborhood.

"Of the four people who moved in here who bought these four houses, we have an interior designer, we have a high school teacher with a family and a university professor, music instructors and computer professionals," Harbison said.

The house came with many energy-efficient upgrades, such as insulation in the attic made from recycled denim and a geo-thermal heating and cooling system.

"For central air conditioning for a three-bedroom house and a full basement, it's like 25 bucks a month," Harbison said.

There are not many bells and whistles: compact florescent lighting, well-insulated windows and cork flooring in the master bedroom. Nevertheless, Harbison says it's those little things that everyone can do that make the biggest difference.

"For example, our porch, the stain is arsenic-free, so there's no run-off. There's no poisoning of the soil through there, which is just such a simple thing to do," Harbison said.

Harbison also got a thousand dollar voucher to purchase an energy-star rated appliance.

To find more about this program and other options for greening your bungalow, check out the historic Chicago Bungalow Association's Green Home Expo Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Merchandise Mart.

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