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Site Sensitivity

Posted by Suchi Rudra

Sep 15, 2014 4:57:00 PM

WHEN KAREN AND DAVE DAVIS decided to build a second home in Martha’s Vineyard with absolute minimum environmental impact, they chose to work with local design/build firm South Mountain Company. Founder John Abrams and his team had been building finely crafted and sustainable houses since 1975, and quickly realized that the site for this particular house near Chilmark Pond was a designer’s dream: a south-facing slope with wonderful views of the south shore. However, this very slope and the narrowness of the site also proved challenging to work around.
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Topics: net-zero energy, graywater, passive solar, 2600 to 3400 square feet, green roof, Low-E Window glazing, salvaged materials, Building Envelope

Helios NW Eco: A Net Zero Vacation Home

Posted by Suchi Rudra

Sep 12, 2014 6:16:00 PM

WHEN SARAH AND HER HUSBAND (surnames withheld) purchased what is now the Helios Eco-House in Bend, Oregon, the primary goal was to achieve LEED standards. But after doing much research, the biotech and engineer couple discovered that “if you’re willing to go a little further, it’s really painless to go net zero.”

When the couple purchased the 2,145-square-foot house in 2010, construction hadn’t been completed due to the drop in the housing market in 2006. Sarah considered this a unique opportunity.
“It’s one thing to read about green building, and another to immerse yourself in it,” she says. By March 2011, the couple completed construction on the three-bedroom, three-bath house to achieve LEED Gold for Homes (the first in Oregon), and the property began to operate as a short-term vacation rental. The rental income was immediately reinvested into the house, including the installation of the PV array, and by June 2011, Helios Eco-House had achieved net-zero energy.

“It’s the only net-zero property in the area that I know of,” Sarah says.

Powering the home is a 2.59-kW grid-tied photovoltaic solar panel array on the roof. Each solar panel has its own microinverter, which leaves the whole array unaffected if one panel breaks down. “Little decisions like that helped maximize what we’re doing,” Sarah adds.

Typically, the house is able to send back excess energy into the grid on a monthly basis, except for a small dip in January and February, depending on the snowload. But Bend is located in what’s known as a “high desert” climate and enjoys a prime solar environment, with over 300 days of sun a year. A display in the garage and online allows visitors to monitor the performance level of the PV array.
Guests can leave a minimal carbon footprint by walking to local restaurants, cafés and markets and cycling or taking a shuttle bus to nearby attractions. The house also maintains a “mid-century modern” aesthetic, complete with vintage furniture, which allows guests to try out an eco-friendly lifestyle without sacrificing ease or comfort.

“People can stay very comfortably and not have a lot of waste as a result of their stay,” says Sarah. “And other guests come because they are specifically interested in the concept of this house.”

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Topics: net-zero energy, 1600 to 2500 square feet, Green Landscaping, LEED, solar, standing seam metal roof, water conservation, zero-VOC, radiant heating systems, Low-E Window glazing

Last Stop - Best Aging-In-Place Home - Catlett, VA

Posted by Matt Power

Dec 1, 2012 11:53:00 AM

HOMES SUCH AS this one, by Golden Rule Builders, avoid the ecological impacts of remodeling a home’s cosmetic features to accommodate aging residents, at the same offering low utility and maintenance costs for the life of the structure.

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Topics: Geothermal Heating and Cooling, 3500 to 4900 square feet, Energy Recovery Ventilation, standing seam metal roof, PEX, Low-E Window glazing, 2012 Green Home of the Year Awards, ADA compliant, Paint

Clean Finish - Best Healthy House Design - Austin, TX

Posted by Matt Power

Dec 1, 2012 11:44:00 AM

ONE OF THE more unusual aspects of this sleek, modern home is its inclusion of site-built concrete countertops, locally made with the addition of recycled glass aggregate.

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Topics: Geothermal Heating and Cooling, Indoor Air Quality, hardwood flooring, FSC Certified Lumber, Low-E Window glazing, LED Lighting, 2012 Green Home of the Year Awards

Verifiable Green Results

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Sep 12, 2012 8:33:00 AM

It helps that brothers Ray and Mark Pung are electrical engineers; their zealous attention to detail and penchant for inspection results in homes that are buttoned up tight. “Our goal is to make sure we are properly inspecting our jobs and that all subs are meeting our high level of expectation,” Ray explains.

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Topics: Geothermal Heating and Cooling, LEED, Energy Recovery Ventilation, HERS, 2600 to 3400 square feet, spray foam insulation, Energy Star, Low-E Window glazing, Michigan


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