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Old + New

Posted by Matt Power

Apr 30, 2014 2:15:00 PM

The Adirondack-style shingled home, complete with a pond and running stream, holds its own along the estate-studded back roads of New Canaan, Conn. But it is a beauty that’s simply the veneer on a highly engineered and efficient home. 

“The couple’s goals were to build the greenest, most energy efficient house possible,” says architect Jim Edgcomb. “This site had attributes they were looking for: natural water features and open areas for photovoltaics, along with beautiful views.”

“An indispensable part of our process is making the box as airtight as possible,” says Chris Trolle, the project’s engineer.The super-insulating process was extensive. Crews insulated the precast concrete walls with 1” of rigid foam board followed by spray foam. The floor slab sits on a 6” bed of crushed stone and 2” of foam board. Above-grade walls are 2x6, 24” OC. Roofing was framed with 2x12, also 24” OC.

Contractors filled the void left by 2x3 strapping in the basement and other parts of the house with spray foam insulation, further increasing R-values (R-58 roof, R-31 above grade, R-39 basement).
Most windows are triple-glazed casements with two layers of low-E coatings and two 1/2” air spaces filled with argon; frames are solid wood and aluminum clad so that they are virtually maintenance free.

Because the clients wanted the visual aesthetic of stained-shingle cladding, they selected FSC-certified cedar from local sources. To increase the durability of this material, the builders installed a special mesh fabric betwee

n the building wrap and shingles, allowing moisture to drain out and away.Old and New

For the roof sheathing, the clients chose a shingle manufactured from recycled rubber. The shingles, which even close-up look like slate, met the client’s expectations for sustainability; cost-wise, the roof is comparable in price and durability to a standing-seam metal product.

“Our focus is always on the building envelope, first,” says Edgcomb. “Once you have a durable, high-performance envelope, you can add the systems.”

“They were incredible clients,” acknowledges Edgcomb, and the builder agrees. “They were completely committed to doing the right thing.”

In fact, not only did these clients push through a graywater system—the first domestic system approved by the state—they also had a composting toilet installed in the master bath, linked to a composter in the basement.

The resulting home and property is a living green laboratory—it has earned LEED Platinum and NGBS Emerald status—that the clients enjoy sharing with school and university groups, other building professionals, green advocacy groups, and their neighbors.

  • fsc-certified northeast wood

    Wherever possible, the clients wanted local and sustainable materials used throughout the interior and exterior. Stone for building facings and landscape stonework was harvested on or near the property; reclaimed lumber and FSC-certified wood products from Northeast sources were also used for the structure and finish items such as the kitchen island and desk tops.

  • NY recycled glass countertop

    Countertops made from recycled glass at a Brooklyn, N.Y., fabricator were yet another local selection.

  • pole-mounted pv

    To provide about 94% of the home’s electricity, a 10.8 kW system, consisting of 1,000 square feet of pole-mounted PV panels, was installed in the optimum location on the nearly five-acre property.

  • rainwater runoff and swimming pools
    The landscape design complements the home’s resource-conserving features. Rainwater runoff from the roof is captured in underground cisterns and used for irrigation. The efficient heating system in the home, combined with an automatic pool cover makes the swimming pool indulgence more sustainable.
  • custom 1000 gallon water tank

    The hot water system, which supplies radiant floor heating, domestic hot water, and heated pool water in the warm weather months, that uses the most ingenious integration of three high-efficiency sources. Solar thermal panels on the roof (500 square feet) heat a custom-made 1,000-gallon water tank, which is used like a battery to store heat for all the home’s requirements.

  • AFUE 95 boiler and pellet boiler backup

    When the sun isn’t producing enough heat, a pellet boiler with automatic feed backs up the solar panels. In the event that these systems cannot keep up with demand, a super high efficiency (AFUE 95) propane boiler will kick in.

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