Renan and Sven Menninger’s new LEED platinum home is perfect for quarantine


This 2,993-sq.-ft, four-bedroom home was nearly three years under construction. The contemporary structure is far more energy efficient than a typical Cincinnati code-built home and was completed just in time for quarantine.


Renan and Sven Menninger’s certificate of occupancy was in the mail just days before the stay-at-home order came down from Ohio Governor DeWine. The couple loves the 270-degree views of the Ohio River and the beauty of Cincinnati. Mornings bring flocks of geese racing by and afternoon showers way off in the distance slowly move across the horizon. They are in tune with the weather — good and bad — from their vantage point atop Mt. Adams. Green space surrounds them on one half and the rooftops of the city on the other.


Renan’s profession as an interior designer and operator of RN interiors provided an opportunity to showcase their style — sleek interior spaces with minimal interior trim, expansive tile surfaces in bathrooms, and generous amounts of Corian in the kitchen and for the fireplace. Those polished surfaces — all in white and black — contrast with thick carpet underfoot.


The style is untraditional and the approach to design and construction followed suit. The site originally accommodated a single-family home. Now it shares a common wall (insulated concrete form) with the neighboring home still under construction. It meant one less surface treatment.



Creating complicated, sustainable architecture


Contractor Jim Bronzie has worked extensively on the steep hillsides of Mt. Adam’s Baum Street, which is the closest of Cincinnati’s seven hills to downtown. Traveling the Oregon Street Steps alongside the home puts you within minutes of Fountain Square.


Bronzie is expert in building homes with complicated architectural features and the cantilevered staircase was a supreme challenge. Inviting staircases, such as this one, found in sustainable buildings that encourage taking the stairs are called “irresistible stairs.” Renan says architect Chad Puckett with Fold and Form was a great listener for their exploration of minimalist possibilities.


Since 2002, the city of Cincinnati has granted a 10-year tax abatement on certain structures. In 2007, the city added an additional five years to the tax abatement for those receiving LEED Silver Certification and higher. The current incentives are that owners must achieve LEED Certified and Visitable to receive a tax break on the first $275,000 of the structure’s value for an additional two years. An additional five years is available for LEED Silver $400,000, LEED Gold $562,000, and there is no maximum if you achieve LEED Platinum. Because of the tax abatement, nearly every new home in Cincinnati is LEED Certified and builders have become quite familiar with how to do it cost effectively.

The LEED for Homes Rating System provides a basis for quantifying the benefits of green homes, thereby facilitating the widespread construction of more sustainable housing. One of the first steps in planning a LEED home is to adjust the certification thresholds based on the material and energy impacts. All else being equal, a large home consumes more materials and energy than a small home over its lifecycle.


LEED compensates for these impacts by adjusting the thresholds for each award level. Thresholds for smaller-than-average homes are lowered, and thresholds for larger-than-average homes are raised. A small home’s threshold for LEED Gold may be 72…

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