She'd found the firm while living in Oella Mills and
researching green housing options.
She said she saw a listing for Brennan and Company in an
issue of Smart HomeOwner magazine during her research.
When she saw the firm's Frederick Road address, she
realized they were right down the road.
Since that realization, Rob Brennan, principal of
Brennan and Company Architects and owner of Alterego, a
Frederick Road showroom of sustainable, green building
supplies, has been central to the creation of Bohnert's
green team as its first member, Bohnert said.
She has also hired a landscaping crew to maximize the
green capabilities of her yard and a heating company to
rip out her old oil heating system and replace it with a
Bohnert said she called Brennan before she'd even
spoken with a real estate agent and was still living in
an apartment in Oella Mills, biding her time before
finding a house that fitted her needs.
With the architectural know-how to implement green
changes to older houses -- the one Bohnert settled on in
November dates to 1940 -- and the local business
presence to supply the materials for such work, Brennan
was the perfect partner in starting a search for a green
home and future, Bohnert said.
"He can evaluate each potential option for making
something green," she said.
He could also bring in others to help bring those
Brennan suggested Bohnert start her search for a new
home by contacting Kirby Spencer, a real estate agent
with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage on Frederick
Road and a longtime resident of the same neighborhood in
which she would eventually help Bohnert find a home.
Once Spencer located a home that fit Bohnert's
specifications, Bohnert had Brennan evaluate it to make
sure it could be renovated in a way that made it green
-- or at least greener.
Bohnert is now renovating the home so that it uses
Windows are being replaced to put less strain on the
heating and cooling system.
Faucets are being replaced with "low flow" taps that
cut down on the amount of water she will use.
And she hired Love's Heating & Air, Inc., a company
based in Severn and another Brennan contact, to replace
her home's heating system.
The electrically powered system pumps water through
tubing that, in the case of Bohnert's home, goes 300
feet under her front yard. The company had to drill
through granite to create the path for the tubing.
The temperature of the earth at that depth,
regardless of the weather at the surface, remains at a
relatively constant 58 or 59 degrees year around.
According to John Love, the company's president, the
geothermal heat pump is an environmentally friendly way
to control the temperature inside a home.
The system draws heat out of the depths of the earth
in the winter and takes heat out of the home and
releases it into the ground in the summer.
"We're actually pulling energy from the ground," Love
Because the earth is so massive, it can absorb large
amounts of warmth, or give it up.
And because water can hold far more heat than air,
the water system is efficient in harnessing the earth's
heat and transporting it to the house.
Though this is his first geothermal installation in
Catonsville, Love said his company has installed
thousands of geothermal systems throughout Maryland, and
the demand for them has been increasing for years.
Carri Beer-Harlan, an associate architect with
Brennan and Company working with Bohnert, said she has
seen a similar increase in such interest.
She said more people are coming to the company
educated on what it takes to be green.
Still, she said, "There's a lot out there and it's
hard for any one person, when it's not their job, to
figure it all out."
That's where the architecture firm's expertise comes
"We always ask, 'How green are you?'" Brennan said.
"Everybody is a different shade of green, and everybody
has a different budget."
Love said the geothermal system, while an investment
up front, will end up saving Bohnert money in the long
It will also make her eligible for federal and state
Replacing windows and making sure a house is tightly
sealed may save money over time.
But as Bohnert put it, it takes a dedication to the
idea of being green to really put in the time and effort
to learn about available options and go through with
It isn't easy or inexpensive, she said, but for her,
it's about the future.
And the future will be better if her 1,100-square
foot home, and others like it around the world, are made