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Alternative Construction Case Study: “Noopiming”

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Nov 16, 2015 6:02:06 PM

Noopiming means “In the woods” in the local Native American language, and bringing that element into the home was a priority.

DAN VOS OF Vos Energy Concepts designed and built this home for John and Marsha Traxler Reeves. The property is special: 11 acres that open out to an old oxbow overflow from Michigan’s Muskegon River.

Biophilic Elements

Vos used ICF construction for the walls (R-22) and I-joists for the roof (R-40), with glulam center beams and a frost-protected shallow foundation (R-22). The radiant heat floor is insulated with four inches of EPS underneath (R-22).

“These aren’t extravagant numbers, yet with a very tight house we achieved a HERS rating of 16 in a very cold climate,” says Vos. A 7.5-kW solar PV and solar thermal panel systems also helped achieve this impressive score.

Some trees were harvested from the site to gain solar access. Vos used trunks from these trees for porch posts, limbs for stair posts, branches for spindles and branch joints for drawer/door pulls. He sourced some oak which had been sawn up 20 years ago and planed it for the loft floor, trim and cabinetry.

“We essentially brought the outdoors in, which makes the clients very happy,” says Vos.

Other salvaged materials were incorporated into the design, including ceiling fans, lighting fixtures, bathroom sinks and a bathtub. Vos also sourced reused tempered glass in the loft railings, and old school chalkboards served as window ledges in the thick ICF walls.
A small Mitsubishi mini-split heat pump and a small Hearthstone Tribute woodstove supplement the electric boiler, and an S&P ERV brings a continuous supply of fresh air into the home.

Noopiming has earned Michigan’s first GreenStar Gold certification. In this program, which is overseen by the non-profit GreenHome Institute, projects earn points in five different categories: Energy, Health, Water, Materials and Place. The program considers how these elements are affected systematically by the seven components of a home, which include Outdoor/Site, Building Envelope Systems, Mechanicals, Electrical/ Lighting, Plumbing Systems and Fixtures, Finish Materials and Coatings and Waste Management.

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    The house exterior is finished with stucco from an old recipe and aluminum soffits and fascia. The windows are Northstar high-performance vinyl with U-values around 0.2.

  • Noopiming2.jpg

    Wood from trees harvested at the site brings natural features into the home.

  • Noopiming3-1.jpg

    The countertops and windowsills in the bathroom are made from old dark walnut.

  • Noopiming4.jpg

    Natural materials, organic shapes and lots of natural light help connect the outdoor environment with the home’s interior.

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