Energy Efficiency, Quality, Affordability, Beauty

Project Rendering

This project started as an investigation into residential building technologies and techniques that would provide the end user with an extremely energy efficient, well-built house that wasn’t cost prohibitive. The main goal was to find and implement viable building strategies and technologies that meet sustainable criteria, and demonstrate their implementation in a reasonably affordable project. Ideally, the four values listed above should not be mutually exclusive, but should act to balance the decisions that make up the home building process.

Below are some definitions of concepts that are referred to a lot, and are also often misused or misunderstood. Also included are descriptions of different programs that influenced how this project came together. These programs set the bar for energy efficiency and sustainability, and provide a third party verification of achievement.

For a snapshot of the home's construction and energy related features, click here.

This site is still undergoing construction, so be patient and check back often.



In 1987, the Brundtland Commisions of the United Nation defined sustainability as "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs ." Sustainability is a very broad term, and in the built environment, it refers to a practice of building, use and maintenance that does not deplete the resources necessary to make those activities possible. This includes development of land, production of raw materials, labor, energy, waste and ultimately decommissioning and recycling.

Life Cycle

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Life Cycle refers to a building’s projected life span and takes into consideration all costs associated with the building over the course of its life. While a certain material or system may be more expensive initially, the savings in maintenance, repair or replacement may mean a reduction in life cycle costs. This generally means a corresponding reduction in future resource use, thus promoting a sustainable future for the building.

Whole Building Design

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Whole building design is a broad term referring to the concept that a building is more than the sum of its parts. When each system in a building is designed with consideration for all other systems (rather than exclusive of those systems), the result is a much more efficient and useable whole.

Green Building

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Green Building is the umbrella term for many of these issues of sustainability and  stewardship, and for the goals of programs like LEED and Energy Star. Many products which help to achieve these goals are referred to as "Green" or "Green Building". There is also the danger of  "Green Washing", which is giving a product, method, or project the appearance of green for marketing, when in actuality it does nothing to further these goals.

Energy Star and LEED

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Energy Star and LEED are two independent programs that come together in the LEED for Homes program. The Energy Star program was developed by the US EPA and Department of Energy, and sets standards and mandates for energy use goals for appliances, lighting, HVAC equipment and buildings themselves. Energy star is focused on energy use, and its guidelines and regulations are often the direction future International Energy Code requirements will take. LEED, on the other hand, is a non-governmental voluntary system developed by the non-profit US Green Building Council. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and has a stated mission of market change. LEED provides third party verification of performance and achievement, and assigns a rating level based on how well a project performs- Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum. LEED's scope is much broader than Energy Star, and includes use and development of site, use and conservation of water (including storm water runoff), energy efficiency, material use efficiency, indoor environmental quality and occupant comfort..

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