Serenbe home built green, energy efficient

By Alma Hill

For the AJC

When Ashton and Rita Ritchie took a drive through Serenbe five years ago while visiting from Columbus, Ohio, it was love at first sight. They liked the close-knit, organic farm community, the EarthCraft homes, the easy stroll to shopping and restaurants, and the green space.

Shortly after their visit, the Ritchie’s purchased a lot, sold their home in Ohio and most of their furniture, and moved to Serenbe to begin a new life after 38 years of marriage. They haven’t looked back. “I have never had an experience like this,” Rita Ritchie said. “The people are so friendly.”

They count their neighbor and builder, Mac McKinney, among their new friends. “If you can be friends with your builder after the house has been built, that speaks volumes,” Ashton Ritchie said.

Residents: Ashton and Rita Ritchie. He works part-time in advertising and promotions. She teaches yoga at the Serenbe Community Center.

Location: Serenbe, a sustainable community in Palmetto in south Fulton County, about 30 minutes from the airport.

Year built: Construction started in August last year; the home was completed in March.

Size: 4,500 square feet with 3 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths and a one-bedroom, one-bath, mother-in-law suite on the lower level.

Architectural style: Contemporary

Construction: All homes in Serenbe are EarthCraft certified, but the Ritchie home was awarded the EarthCraft Certified Project of the Year by the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association and Southface Energy Institute. The home stands out because of its unique design by Moon Bros. Architects and McKinney & Son Builders. The house was built tight and has Low-E windows, a tankless gas water heater, energy efficient appliances, Georgia harvested hardwoods, a water reuse system and a host of other green features.

Favorite architectural feature: The overall energy efficiency of the home. The Home Builders and Southface "said it was one of the tightest houses they've ever seen," Ashton Ritchie said.

Favorite design feature: The screened sun porch and covered patio. "I love this climate," said Rita Ritchie, who doesn't miss the cold weather in Ohio.

Interior design style: Contemporary and "green" with furnishings that have been recycled, reclaimed and repurposed. "If you asked who our designer was we'd have to give you five different names because of all the friends who helped us," Ashton Ritchie said.

Outdoor feature: The home has a Chinese rock garden that runs between the house and a vegetable garden in back where Rita Ritchie grows lettuce, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, turnip and collard greens.