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Worthington family considers environment in new Glenwood Heights home

WORTHINGTON -- It's been a busy last few months for Jay Larson.

Larson has started a new business, ARIA Enterprises LLC, and along with wife Dana is building a new home in Worthington's Glenwood Heights addition. In addition to the pride he takes in construction, he is also pleased with the environment-friendly aspect of the project.

Part of the reason the new Larson home is "green," he said, is use of Rhino Block, an insulating concrete form that ARIA Enterprises distributes. But there's more to it than just the use of that material, he added.

"Along with the green home building concept, without even trying, we've been energy efficient," Larson said. "That's probably the No. 1 reason for building an ICF (insulated concrete form) house, but there are several other things we did without really realizing it.

"We've recycled all the materials that could be -- all the building and shipping materials," he continued. "We're using predominantly local contractors and suppliers, thus minimizing fuel and transportation and environmental impact and expense."

Larson and his wife -- who have one child, daughter Aria, 2 -- began work on their home shortly after Worthington's King Turkey Day celebration in mid-September.

"We looked at various house plans and homes, like the Sioux Falls (S.D.) tours of homes and some in Spirit Lake (Iowa)," he said. "Dana and I spent two-and-a-half years designing it. We talk a lot about the way we live, and the way we want to live. We want to build a house that will suit us from when our first child is 2 ... all through her life."

In addition to living in a home in a pleasant neighborhood and having a lake view, the Larsons' home is all about practicality.

"We laid it out -- it's all ranch style, all one floor," Larson said. "We tried to be conscious of cost and conscious of what it's going to cost to operate over the long haul, over 30 to 40 years. I don't mind having to spend a little money up front, as long as I don't have to spend that money over and over again later."

The Larsons will enjoy a sizeable basement with plenty of possibilities, including a wet bar, significant storage room and two legal (with egress windows) bedrooms. There's also a large garage in which Larson takes particular pride.

"We shouldn't be cramped in the garage and have cars parked so close together," he said, noting the three-car garage is a little deeper than average at 30 feet by 44 feet wide. "That's my man cave. All I thought about was the garage. My wife thought about the house, and we joined the two.

"We have in-floor heat in the basement and in the garage," Larson continued. "BTU Heating and Cooling (of Worthington) did a great job of designing something .... And, instead of buying a 97, 98 percent-efficient furnace, we ended up spending a little bit money for our furnace as well as the air conditioner, but I should never have to replace them. This whole house is about quality, not quantity."

The main floor of the home encompasses about 2,200 square feet -- and then there's the full basement, too. There are plenty of opportunities to look outside, as the home will have 26 windows.

"I put Andersen windows in because they have a pretty strong reputation, and I wanted something where if a window crank broke 30 years from now, I want to be able to replace it," Larson said.

"We also positioned the house so we would maximize the natural light. The windows are predominantly on the east and west sides, with very few to the north."

One key to the home, of course, is the Rhino Block that Larson sells. The product consists of Styrofoam-like forms held together with ties made from recycled materials. The forms are filled with concrete to create the exterior walls of the building.

Ties are placed 8 inches apart in the construction process, as they are used in the attachment of sheetrock on the inside of the wall and exterior siding on the outside. Larson is using Rhino Block for all the exterior walls of his home.

"With the concrete -- it's obviously the whole energy efficiency thing," he said. "This is much more efficient than traditional construction methods."

Ryan McGaughey

I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.

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