Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Green Building of The Week 11.24.2010

Truro Residence by Zero Energy Design and Silvia and Silvia Builders

[photo credits: Eric Roth]

This residence, located in Massachusetts, bears the same mindset and desire of many of our San Juan Island projects: an urban dwelling, professional couple with grown children that wants to create a comfortable, inviting atmosphere for the entire family to gather during extended holidays. This programmatic need brings many environmental challenges to the table, such as energy efficiency while vacant, flexible use of space and low maintenance materials. The waterfront location also brings an environmentally sensitive site to the forefront of the design process.

The programmatic needs combined with the desire for sustainability created two wings for the structure; a main living wing with the dining, living and master suite and a sleeping wing for visitors which can be shut down for most of the year and limit the house’s energy consumption. The open, light-filled house was built from two narrow wings allowing for shorter joists/rafters thus keeping the lumber sizes to a minimum. I continually admire well designed, narrow buildings that achieve grand spaces where ventilation is better, light fully penetrates the house, heating is easier, spans are shorter and wasted space as hallways disappear completely.

The Truro residence is by no means a small house, at nearly 6400 square feet, it misses the simplest method of green design: less square feet. However, given the neighboring mansions of Cape Cod, the designers created a well zoned, energy efficient and flexible vacation home that pays back the energy usage it consumes.




Green Techniques:

  • Durable Materials. Metal Roofing, Concrete Slab Floors, Slate Floors, Solid cabinetry, hardwood decking and a structural system built to withstand hurricane force winds .
  • Natural Light and Ventilation. High clerestory windows allow soft natural light in the bathrooms and bedrooms lessening the need for artificial lights.
  • Zoning of Spaces. Isolation of limited use guest rooms from high functioning living spaces minimizes wasteful heating and energy usage.
  • HVAC. A Geothermal system (six 300 ft. deep wells) coupled with in-floor hydronic heat reduces energy use by up to 50% and improves indoor air quality by eliminating ductwork that attracts dust.
  • Alternative Energy. 11.7 KW photovoltaic system placed on the roof to offset energy consumption and create net metering. The panels are connected to a gas generator to keep the house functioning in the event of a power outage.
  • No Carpet. Minimizes the settling of dust thus improving the indoor air quality. Flooring was limited to slate, bamboo and polished concrete eliminated the use of toxic finishes.
  • Super Insulation. Icynene open cell insulation was sprayed into the wall and roof cavities. It is supplemented with rigid and closed cell insulation to create a “super insulated” building.
  • Certifications. Energy Star Certified.


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