National Geographic : 2007 Oct
> Joining the mainstream never really interested Frank and Lisa Mauceri. Both proud dreamers even before they met at a Los Lobos concert back in college 20 years ago, the Mauceris use outside-the-box thinking as a creative technique to nurture their eco-friendly life. By merging their record company ambitions and their love of the environment they have created an environmentally inspiring live/work space they hope will ignite the imaginations of their Chicago community and colleagues in the recording industry. Their newly renovated building, a former old corner store and bar located in Chicago's artistic Bucktown neighborhood, is the United States' first and only residence that is LEED certified-a green building rating system designed by the U.S. Green Building Council-generating its own electricity through the use of solar panels and wind turbines, and using geothermal heating and cooling. Although the couple was on a traditional corporate track-Frank worked as an attorney and Lisa worked in finance-they dreamed of ditching the 60-hour work weeks that were feeling increasingly pointless. As devoted rock and-rollers, they wanted to dive headfirst into their musical passions. After stints in Cleveland and Reno, the pair decided to reinvent their life in Chicago. "Chicago stood out to us," says Frank. "The Windy City has one of the strongest green initiatives in the country and is striving to be the greenest metropolitan area in America." NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Image Collection The Personal Advisors of Ameriprise Financial Photography made possible by National Geographic Image Collection; Dawn Kish, photographer. With the help of a green-savvy architect, they created a building plan that includes two wind turbines, 30 solar electric panels, geothermal heating and cooling, and a 1,900-square-foot green roof that serves as the home's yard. "The wind turbines in combination with the solar panels should create at least 40 percent of all the electricity we need. Under ideal conditions it will produce 100 percent," says Frank. And there's even a chance that the Mauceris' system might produce more energy than is needed for their home, in which case the excess electricity is distributed back to the city's energy grid and they receive a credit on their electric bill. As with any construction project, there were stumbling blocks. Despite Chicago's green reputation, the city's residential height restrictions prohibited building the wind turbines. But by working with the city, the couple helped Chicago create new ordinances which now exempt wind turbines from the height restrictions. "Our neighbors are really fascinated by what's happening on the roof," says Lisa. "We had to get the okay from them to do the wind turbines, and they were like, 'Yeah, go for it.' They had no problems at all." One of the couple's favorite design features is the use of crushed record bits in the flooring material, which they helped to create. Frank smashed the records with a hammer and then Lisa ground the bits with a blender. "It's a really personal way to recycle and it really screams 'us,'" says Lisa. "I felt, and still feel, that the more people I tell about this way of living, the bigger positive impact I'll have, and the less negative impact we will all have on the environment," adds Frank.