Ellis used the short eaves space upstairs to store a single Geyser heat pump water heater. He needed to provide enough capacity for four bathrooms and an outdoor shower. So the two hot water tanks act as storage and are plumbed in line with the Geyser heat pump providing heat for the system. The heat pump runs on standard 110 volt power. As the systems use ambient hot air to heat water, they blow out colder air, cooling the “outdoor” hallway. Also in this space is the 4.5 ton 16 SEER Trane high-efficiency heat pump that conditions living areas.
PROBABLY THE GREENEST way builder Steve Ellis could have used his island property would have been to continue enjoying it as a festive site for bonfires and camping.
But the day finally came to build his dream retreat on the two-acre site. He was driven to build the most efficient green home possible, with mind-blowing views of the Gulf and room for large get-togethers. He tracked how the sun would hit the house, how breezes could be harnessed to reduce HVAC loads, and even how to most efficiently build on a site where everything had to travel in by barge.
In the end, he built this Florida Green Building Coalition home his way, without using high-tech systems to give the building a green gloss. Instead, he worked from the ground up to create a true showcase for eco-friendly living.
For example, Ellis, who is president of MyGreenBuildings, wanted the house to top out at 2,000 square feet. “That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice luxury and comfort,” he explains. “This house does not read campy. It’s having everything you want without sacrificing the environment to get it.”
With every decision, Ellis balanced resource use and energy efficiency against ideas of luxury. “What we’ve always dreamed about is an efficient home that brings family close and wraps them up and keeps them close. Isn’t that, above all, what you want from a home?”
SPECIAL SITING A wide west-facing “box” design is cost-effective and maximizes views and breezes. The home has 1,850-square-feet of conditioned space with four bedrooms and four baths.
CENTRAL STYLE All of the living areas are at the center of the house, while the two first-floor bedrooms are separated from each other for privacy. Porches flank both sides of the 18’-deep house.
EXTERIOR DETAILS The house is clad in HardiePanel and HardieTrim Batten Boards over Tyvek Housewrap. The roofing is Galvalume standing seam metal over a watertight secondary peel and stick membrance.
TIGHT ENVELOPE Ellis used BioBased spray foam to insulate the floors underneath the elevated main living area, the roof line, and walls. It nets R-19 at the roofline and R-12 on the exterior and underside of the house.
SPACE SAVER To keep a smaller footprint, stairwells and the upstairs hallway were placed outside conditioned space, but sheltered under the 15’-wide eaves. When the windows in those spaces are opened, they help vent hot air.
SMART STACKING The upstairs guest rooms are mirrors of each other and share a plumbing stack for efficiency. Each suite also has a bonus room under the eaves allowing a family of five to sleep comfortably.
LIVE OUTSIDE The conveniently located high-efficiency stack unit by Bosch is under the stairs on the east porch and not in conditioned space. Graywater from the washer is used for outdoor watering. No matter where you are you are essentially living outside. The doors fly open and you are living outside.
SMART KITCHEN The kitchen features plywood cabinets with no added-urea formaldehyde, Heart Pine flooring with water-based low-VOC sealer, Energy Star-qualified appliances (except for the refrigerator), and a water-saving faucet from the Kohler Memoir series with flow restrictor.
EASY LIVING The kitchen opens to the living room and wide porch. It is the center section of the 67’-long house, with bedrooms flanking the living space for privacy. The open floor plan allows for passive ventilation.
NEW LIFE The house includes many recycled and reclaimed options. The trestle table, for example, is made from reclaimed Cedar planking; the chairs from a shuttered restaurant. The hanging lamp in the foyer was rescued from a house being demolished.