Energy Efficient House

Energy Efficient House

Simple Energy Efficient Design Green Building This energy efficient  1 1/2 bath, 2 bedroom home captures the spirit of Sarah Susanka’s “Not So Big House”. Although less than 1400 sq feet, it feels spacious and cozy inside. It is a simple cape design and features wet spray cellulose insulation in the walls with an R-50 roof. Living space was created right to the peak of the house by adding a sleeping loft and storage space above the second floor.  A small family room was also created in the insulated basement space making living space available on 4 levels of this modestly sized home for this growing family. Lots of local milled wood was used for the flooring and trim inside. Fiber cement siding and wood trim was used on the exterior. The home is all set up to add a covered porch on the east gable end as well. Energy Efficient Heating This home heats primarily with wood (less than 1.5 cords per year) and radiant floor heat (only on the first floor) sourced from a wall vented high efficiency oil furnace that can burn bio-diesel and provides the house with hot water. This home also features solar photovoltaic panels which are net metered. Excess electricity is run back into the grid making this home extremely energy efficient.  ...

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Straw Bale House Addition

Straw Bale House Addition

A Much Needed Addition With a growing family, this small home was in much need of an addition to create more space. Working with Architect Ted Montgomery, a plan was devised to add a room above the existing entryway while creating a large covered porch and expanded outdoor storage area for bicycles, gardening tools and outdoor gear. This added a lot of character to the home and the extra space they needed. We used the same materials that were on the existing house to make it blend in naturally so it looks like it has always been there. This included red cedar siding and trim boards, Fabral corragated metal roofing and matching windows. The porch deck is covered in red cedar and the ceiling tongue and groove pine. Cellulose was used to insulate the addition and all scrap was either recycled or cut into kindling. Total cost was about...

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Energy Star House Sited for Natural Light

Energy Star House Sited for Natural Light

Energy Star, Energy Efficient This couple bought a beautiful 5 acre lot in North Ferrisburg with the vision of creating a simple homestead with extensive gardens and an orchard. First they needed a house and garage. The house site is well suited for southern exposure which affords plentiful natural light inside the house and passive solar heating. It features a master bedroom and 2 studio spaces upstairs along with a generous sized bath with built in tub and separate shower. Downstairs is an entry porch that leads into a mudroom and then into the great room which holds the kitchen, dining area and living room. At the center of it all is a beautiful soap stone woodstove. Towards the back of the first floor is a spacious guest room with a cathedral ceiling. This room and the adjacent bathroom can be closed off with a pocket door creating a private, quiet space for its occupant. The home has a full basement with a bulkhead leading out towards the garage. The garage features a large second floor which can be finished at some point to create a spacious studio for gardening classes. Other features include bamboo and marmoleum floors, red cedar decks and porches, pine soffits and porch ceilings, low VOC paints, and maple cabinets. The home is insulated with cellulose in the walls and ceiling and has a full home air exchange heat recovery system (Venmar). Foundation walls and under slab are insulated with either EPS foam or polyisocyanurate. The home rates as a  5 star Energy Star Home. The cost of this house came out to be about $150 per square foot (not including design and site work).                    ...

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Insulated Concrete Form Net Zero House

Insulated Concrete Form Net Zero House

Insulated Concrete Form Home for Outstanding Energy Efficiency This insulated concrete form,  one bedroom, one bath home was a departure from our standard super insulated home building techniques. Instead of using typical framing materials and thick walls filled with cellulose, the owner chose to use ICF’s or Insulated Concrete Forms to build the basement and first floor walls. ICF’s are basically like Styrofoam lego blocks that you fill with concrete. This creates a super insulated envelope. The owner used his engineering background to carefully think through how to get this home to perform at a near net zero level (the home produces as much energy as it uses) while avoiding the use of any fossil fuels. One of the keys to this was taking advantage of all the thermal mass in the house including a 4 inch thick concrete slab floor (the house is one story with a full basement) which is heated with direct sunlight and radiant tubing running through the slab heated with an on demand electric heating system. The electric heating is offset by a roof mounted net metered array of solar voltaic cells. A woodstove also sits in the center of the house but is only needed for short periods even on very cold days because the house will quickly overheat due to the high R values of the walls and ceilings. Careful attention was given to air sealing the house which is equipped with a complete air exchange heat recovery (HRV) system to ensure a high standard of air quality and moisture control during the months when windows are closed. The house is further warmed by a sunroom off the one bedroom in the house. Warm air from this room is pulled in by the air exchange heat recovery system (HRV) and by opening the windows that open out into the sunroom from the bedroom. How many folks do you know who open their windows in the winter to warm up! Besides all the high energy efficiency engineering that went into this project, the house features Marmoleum floors over the concrete, a number of custom maple built-ins and hickory kitchen cabinets. The siding is fiber cement board with Miratec trim and all the ICF exposed above grade had stucco applied using a recycled fiberglass reinforced stucco product (Oro Coatings). Because the house is small and was fairly labor intensive to build, it came in at around $195 per square foot (not including the solar electric panels, design and site...

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New Covered Porch Remodel

New Covered Porch Remodel

A New Covered Porch Adds Charm and Outdoor Living Space The south end of this home was crying out for an inviting covered porch to open out onto the back yard in this quiet Burlington, Vermont neighborhood. Working with Architect Elizabeth Brody, we fashioned a simple covered porch that tied in nicely to the roof lines of the existing entry mudroom. We used Red Cedar decking and an elegant porch ceiling was fashioned with beaded tongue and groove Douglas Fir. Amazing how a little project like this can transform a home. Cost was about $9,500.00 (2009).  ...

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Super Insulated House

Super Insulated House

A New Super Insulated Home in Vermont This super insulated, double wall home was an especially satisfying project to do for a growing family of four in Charlotte. At about 1750 square feet, it features 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, a guest/office space, pantry, mudroom, fully insulated basement and root cellar. There is also a finished attic space that adds another 300 sq feet of living and storage space. This house features double framed 12 inch thick walls. That means there is an exterior wall, an interior wall and a space between packed with cellulose insulation. The walls are R-42, the ceilings R-60 making this house super-insulated and inexpensive to heat. In fact, the house has only a central soap stone masonry wood burning stove as its heating source. It requires only about 1.5-2 cords of wood per year to comfortably heat year-round. The house is completely insulated from the basement slab all the way to the peak of the house so that every possible square foot of space under the roof is available for living and storage. Because the house is so tight, we also installed an excellent air exchange and heat recovery system to ensure fresh air was being brought in during the winter months with minimal heat loss. This home is partially powered with a roof mounted solar voltaic electric panels and solar hot water panels. Several built-in shelving and drawer units were built on-site and all the floors are hard and soft wood, most of which were harvested and milled off of the Mom’s parents farm in Massachusetts including Cherry, Ash and Elm. Because the house has such thick walls, deep window sills are created that add to the coziness of the house. These are all trimmed out in knotty pine that was milled on site. Cost was about $175.00/ sq. foot with solar (house only). About $160.00 per square foot w/o solar, but includes super insulation and masonry stove....

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