Summit County’s first LEED Gold home done in Breckenridge |

Summit County’s first LEED Gold home done in Breckenridge

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Special to the Daily

BRECKENRIDGE – From its tile to its ceiling beams, the McGarry house is both friendly to the environment and its inhabitants. And, as Summit County’s first LEED Gold home, the results are stunning.

Workers broke ground in June, and the house was recently completed – just in time for the Parade of Homes tour to start this weekend.

“It’s always been a thing for my wife and I to leave as little a human footprint on the world as humanly possible,” owner Tom McGarry said. “That started from site selection to interviewing the right people. … We wanted to show that we can be kind to the environment, and still have a house that’s very nice, beautiful and functional for a big family.”

The 5,000 square-foot family retreat is located in the hills of Breckenridge, and it sleeps 14 people –¬†perfect for the McGarrys, a family of 10.

“This is the first home in Summit County to be LEED certified by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC),” said Double Diamond builder Arnie Surdyk. “Not only is it certified, but it is GOLD certified. It achieved a HERS rating of 29, and an air exchange rate of .15. Those are both extraordinary numbers, but even more so for a 5,000 square-foot house.”

HERS – or “home energy rating score” is used to evaluate a home’s energy efficiency. The average home has a HERS rating of 100, McGarry said, so its rating is particularly good for a house of that large size.

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Surdyk noted that other LEED houses are being build in the area, but the McGarrys’ home is the first to be complete. And its rating is as good as anyone could get.

“We were going for Silver, but we ended up kicking butt and getting it to Gold,” Surdyk said. “We’re thrilled.”

The house doesn’t even have a new-house smell – builders used soy-based stains, and walls are covered in American Clay. There’s no wall-to-wall carpets either – flooring was constructed with wood and concrete.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council website, “the LEED green building certification program encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices.” It uses a suite of rating systems that recognize projects implementing strategies for better environmental and health performance. “LEED is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: Sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.”

To get a LEED Gold standard, Surdyk and the McGarry family worked hard to make sure every aspect of the home was committed to sustainability in some way.

“It was a team effort to get it up to the standards,” Surdyk said. “LEED standards are different because you must engineer it from the start.”

For example, the flooring in the living room is made from reclaimed wood, as is the ceiling. The beams are from a train trestle, and many doors, trim, siding – even decking and cabinets – are constructed from beetle-killed wood.

“Every piece of furniture is classified as green in some way,” Surdyk added. “There’s green appliances and lighting, too.”

And, there’s also a lock-off unit with its own kitchen.

“Our son will be able to go there and not impact the energy for the rest of house,” McGarry said. “There’s actually kill valves to knock energy off to different areas of house, and we can monitor it through the computer, even from Oklahoma.”

McGarry said he’s entered the house in the Parade of Homes tour to show it to the community as an example of top-of-the-line green building.

“Our home is not for sale,” he said. “It’s to show people that this can be done when you really put your mind to it.”

McGarry and his wife Margie live in Edmond, Okla., and they plan to retire in Summit County within five to seven years.

For more information about the U.S. Green Building Council and LEED certification, visit To learn more about Double Diamond property and construction services, e-mail or call (970) 418-8029.

SDN reporter Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at