Yannell House is king of green new construction in Ravenswood

North ExposureVisit Michael Yannell’s state-of–the-art, zero net energy home in Ravenswood and you are greeted by great design, interesting angles and a pleasing nod and wink to modern construction.

Visit Michael Yannell’s web site Green Home Chicago and you’re greeted by a bazaar deep cut Boston song, “Corporate America”. At least the gentleman can build a house.

I jest of course about the overt anti-establishment song from the band that brought us “Peace of Mind” that my uncle and I use to sing while cruising around the north side looking for an open tennis court when I was fifteen years old. Back to the house.

Western ExposureThe premise of the Yannell House is that it should create as much energy as it uses. As “green” materials became a fad (and with their expensive prices possibly a short lived one for average developers) the Yannell house is the real deal. Dealing with the energy problem itself rather than focusing on a sales pitch for sustainable bamboo floors.

The home features geothermal heating and cooling, green roofs, solar energy panels and a “grey water/rain water harvesting system”.

Yannell House is not for speculation, but a personal endeavor to be enjoyed by it’s creator.

I’ve emailed and bumped into Mr. Yannell from time to time during construction of the home and he’s graciously invited me for a tour. The Ravenswood community is happy to have him and his house. And yes, he drives a Prius.

Interior Courtyard Exposure Courtyard


  • cgcg 10 years

    Hey, awesome find. Thanks for posting. That courtyard is wonderful. Mr. Yannell is a real trailblazer.

  • Thanks cgcg… I’m just glad to live around the corner. There are a couple of cool modern finds on this stretch of North Ravenswood from Montrose to Peterson. It’s one of the few non-speculative homes on the north side that is not a standard brick box full of ornamentation and electronics.

    There are some really interesting homes in East Village and Bucktown / Wicker Park with “green bean” pioneers, but the projects were lower key. This just rocks in the neighborhood and its a great location for its look and statement.

  • Thanks Eric!

    Apparently I’ve been remiss in emphasizing the materials used in the home!

    Actually, all of the materials used in the home are sustainable, although you won’t find any bamboo since that has to be shipped from Asia (invasive species and all…). 95% of the wood and engineered wood used is FSC certified, the exterior is fiber cement board with recycled content, the floors are engineered/recycled walnut hard wood, recycled porcelain, or oak salvaged from the Karsten house that was on this site. The counter tops and vanity tops are either made from recycled newspaper, recycled cardboard, or recycled glass. All millwork is FSC maple plywood with maple veneer/no formaldehyde added. Window and door jambs are MDF with recycled content/no formaldehyde. Much of the tile is recycled glass. The small amount of area carpeting is made from recycled carpets and recycled backing, etc. etc. I’ve just been bad about listing all this in a centrally located place on the website, but will as soon as I get all the final specifics for each material (pre/post consumer, source, and percentage). Some materials are at a premium to their non-green counterparts, while others cost much less (there’s no granite or marble to be found anywhere!)

    E-mail me about that tour I promised you.


  • Mr. Yannell, we are members of an international club named Friendship Force. It was founded by Jimmy and Rosilyn (I didn’t spell that right) Carter to encourage world peace through people-to-people contact. Usually we host a group of people in our homes from another country and show them the beauty of Chicago. Then in turn, we often are hosted in their homes.

    This year, from Sept. 9-13, we are trying something different. We wil be hosting a group interested in the environment and the “green” revolution. They will be visiting from all over the country and the world. We saw your home on Chicago Tonight and have asked them how to arrange a tour. I thought I’d also go directly to you. Would a tour of your home be possible on Thursday, Sept. 10 or Saturday, Sept. 12? We will be visiting the Conservation Foundation’s McDonald Farm in Naperville on Friday. We’re hoping that this is possible. If so, is there a charge and how large a group can you accomodate? Thanks! Sharon and Jim Huck, Wheaton, IL

  • Justin Morgan 10 years

    Michael, I wanted to say how impressed I was to see someone build a house like yours. I have had a similar vision but never imagined it to come true so soon. I run past your place daily and am very pleased with the final product. Being in the mortgage broker world, this build interested me. But wanting to get out of the business and into the ‘green’ worl interested me even more. I would love to talk to you some day if you dont mind to see where your ideas and thoughts came from.

    My battery is going to die but I hope to hear back from you soon. Your neighbor.

    Justin Morgan

  • Sharon,

    Please e-mail me at GreenHomeChicago@gmail.com


  • Carter 10 years

    Michael, have you visited the Smart Home at MSI, and are there are substantial differences between your home and that one (besides the modular aspect)?

    Great project!


  • I’m not sure I’m crazy about the design but I could sure get behind the going green.