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Off the Shelf

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Jun 9, 2014 2:34:46 PM

THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN Dow Chemical Company and Michigan-based Cobblestone Homes began with a chance meeting at a lumberyard, when a Dow rep invited Melissa and Mark Wahl to a seminar on building science. In 2009, the companies collaborated on the Vision Zero House, a demonstration project that won the Gold 2011 EnergyValue Housing Award. That same year, they broke ground on a second net-zero energy home, but upped the ante.

 Cobblestone Homes InVision Zero Project

“We wanted to build a zero-energy home that was affordable,” says Melissa Wahl, Cobblestone’s co-founder and vice-president. Employing a WaterFurnace geothermal heating and cooling system, 6.1 kW worth of Dow POWERHOUSE solar shingles and an advanced building envelope, InVision Zero uses 60 to 70 percent less energy than a conventional home.

Built in Midland, Michigan, the traditional-looking house features 2’x6’ framed walls filled with 5” of Dow closed-cell spray foam; one inch each of Dow Structural Insulating Sheathing (SIS) and Dow Tongue-and-Groove Styrofoam ensure a complete thermal break. DOW brand construction tape, sealants and adhesives and triple-paned Paradigm windows complete the airtight package. As did its predecessor, this 1,556-sq.-ft. home served as a teaching tool, hosting tours, trainings and hands-on demonstrations.

The Wahls began buying, remodeling and selling homes right out of high school and launched Cobblestone Homes in 2001.

“We help clients invest in homes that are durable, healthy and aesthetically pleasing,” says Melissa. And affordable. Cobblestone built the InVision Zero project for $250,000, just under the median selling price of the average American home.

  • The kitchen features recycled-content quartz countertops, Energy Star vent hood by Broan, Energy Star range and dishwasher by Kenwood—and LED and compact fluorescent lighting.

  • A Green Switch wireless switch uses microchip-controlled radio frequency to communicate with designated light switches and wall plugs. Flipping the Green Switch off tells them to power down.

  • Clever use of exposed wall systems help visitors to the home understand how insulation and vapor sealing technologies save energy.

  • Among the project’s demonstration tools was a dashboard that monitored the home’s energy use and carbon footprint. The home saves 30,233 pounds of carbon dioxide (over a comparable conventional home) annually.

  • Dow installed a pre-commercial version of POWERHOUSE solar shingles in the InVision Zero home. Solar shingles preserve the architectural integrity of the roofline, while generating electricity.

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