Back in May, I blogged about Old House Web’s special, month-long “Old is the New Green" initiative. The centerpiece of the conservation versus preservation-focused campaign was a special video series, “Going Green in an Old Home,” helmed by attorney-turned green renovation guru Matt Grocoff of GreenovationTV.

At the time, Grocoff and his wife Kelly were in the process of painstakingly renovating a circa-1901 Folk Victorian home in Ann Arbor's Old West Side Historic District in Michigan in hopes of achieving net-zero energy status (a home that produces more energy than its inhabitants consume.) So, refreshingly, this home improvement talking head was really practicing what he was preaching.

Several months have passed, and I’ve featured a few remarkable net-zero energy homes including new designs from Michelle Kaufmann, the Colorado home of Jeff Hohensee, and this ark-shaped oddity. Well, now it looks like congratulations are in order as Grocoff’s uber-efficient labor of love has just been deemed a net-zero energy home.

At around 110 years old, Grocoff’s home is now officially the oldest net-zero energy home in America, the first ever net-zero energy home in the state of Michigan, and the first net-zero energy restoration to take place in a designated historic district.

Grocoff’s “Mission Zero” goal was officially reached when the Ann Arbor Historic District green lit the installation of a full-roof solar array on the home. According to Grocoff, the rooftop solar array will help his family stamp out $77,400 in energy costs over a 20-year span while bringing in $27,000 in renewable energy credits from the local utility company.

Grocoff estimates that in addition to providing all of the homes electric needs, the rooftop solar array can provide enough juice to power an electric car for 10,000 miles per year.

In addition to the electricity-producing solar panels, Grocoff went about adding insulation, low-e windows, energy-efficient appliances and lighting fixtures, a geothermal cooling and heating system, an energy-recovery ventilator, and more to his drafty old home.

And as you can see, “Mission Zero” doesn’t look a thing like many of the super-efficient homes that I regularly feature … it’s just a charming, thoughtfully renovated older home. Explains Grocoff:

We have restored the house to the original condition and maintained its historic elements, meeting the strict preservation standards of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This is not a gut rehab or a pre-recession McMansion remodel of an old house, this is an affordable and practical restoration that we hope is an example for others to follow. This is an All-American folk-Victorian home with the classic front porch in a Norman Rockwell neighborhood. You would never know it was “green” if you didn’t see the solar panels on the roof.
To learn more about how Grocoff achieved "Mission Zero," head on over to the home's official website as well as Old House Web. And if you happen to be in Chicago this week for GreenBuild 2010 (wish I was!) and spott Grocoff (he's a member of the U.S. Green Building Council) be sure to give him a high-five, fist bump, or a hearty congratulations.

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

'Mission Zero' achieved in Ann Arbor
A 110-year old Folk Victorian fixer-upper in Ann Arbor, Mich., officially becomes the country's oldest and perhaps most unlikely net-zero energy home.