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Daring Demo

Posted by Linda Leake

Jun 25, 2014 3:16:46 PM

 Daring DemoThe Connolly residence is full of surprises. A sprawling, high-performance beauty, it’s situated in The Prairie, the first green development in northwest Texas.

Just five miles from Wichita Falls, the house serves as a demonstration project for the Department of Energy’s Building America program. Completed in December 2010, it incorporates many energy-efficient and green building techniques that allow it to achieve average heating and cooling bills of $50 per month. That efficiency, along with other green features, reduce its overall impact on the environment. The house is certified LEED-H Gold, Green Built Texas, and ENERGY STAR.

Energy efficiency starts with proper solar orientation--the lot faces south. The roof showcases a 7.75 kW photovoltaic system with 36 panels.

Additional features include a Mitsubishi 4-ton multi-split HVAC system, three variable speed air handlers, fresh air intake (required because house is airtight), advanced framing with 2x6 24” on-center, 1” polyisocyanurate exterior foam board, clad wood low-E insulated windows and doors with .22 solar heat gain coefficient, open cell spray foam insulation and a conditioned attic (unvented system).

There is compact fluorescent lighting throughout the house, along with ENERGY STAR appliances in the kitchen. Propane tankless water heaters reduce energy and water waste. A 21,500 gallon rainwater collection system collects non-potable water for the drought tolerant native plants, and a permeable rock driveway assists in managing sudden downpours.

Other green features include FSC-certified wood used for interior trim and cabinets, formaldehyde-free MDF for painted shelves and trim, and reclaimed barn wood replacing certain structural timbers.

“It wasn’t our intention to make this a net-zero home, but we wanted to make it as energy efficient as possible,” says Chris Miles, principal of GreenCraft Builders, builder of the Connolly house. “The homeowners were going to go with a 3 kW solar system initially, but decided to go with a bigger system‑‑7.75 kW--after learning about utility company rebates. With that, the house is generating 1,100 kWh per month.”

  • The Connolly residence is a sprawling high-performance beauty situated in The Prairie, the first green development in northwest Texas. With a HERS Index of 32, this home is projected to use 68% less energy than the same home built to code.

  • As per The Prairie’s homeowners’ association, only 20% of each lot can be used for a building and landscaping. With the push of a button located on one of the Connolly home’s rear wood columns, screens drop down to enclose the entire patio for outdoor entertaining. With its west/southwest siting, the patio also avoids overheating in the afternoon.

  • Custom 85% recycled content garage doors and a permeable rock driveway enhance the front of the home. The garage doors were made by a company in Dallas, Texas called GDS. They use LP Smartside as a veneer on a blank metal door. The Smartside comes with a 50-year warranty.

  • Reclaimed barn wood timber beams add a dramatic effect to the great room ceiling. Two wood burning fireplaces, including the one showcased in the great room, feature sealed combustion with fresh air intakes.

  • Large vigas and small latillas from Taos, New Mexico adorn the ceiling of the Southwestern-style hallway.

  • The floors in the master bedroom and throughout the house are made from wide-planked reclaimed oak from old barns.

  • The kitchen’s many green features include custom countertops made of sealed maple and ENERGY STAR appliances.

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Topics: net-zero energy

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