Project Architect | Christopher Briley, RA, LEED-AP
Contractor | Symphony Construction
Location | Cumberland, Maine
Completed | 2008
With some ‘Not So Big’ books and many cut-out pictures of farmhouse designs tucked under their arms, our clients, a professional family of 5 (4 at the time) came to us to deliver a comfortable, modern version, of a classic New England Home. They wanted to live in a beautiful, healthy, energy-efficient home and sought the design team of Symphony Construction and the Green Design Studio to deliver it.
This passive solar home features a solar porch that is designed to let in an abundance of natural daylight in the colder seasons, while cutting off the steeper sun angles of the hotter months. The home adheres to an open concept, and spaces flow together while still being well-defined and providing privacy or separation where needed. Like the Harmony House designs, this home is balloon framed, sealed, and very well insulated with dense-packed cellulose. It has a natural air change rate of 0.09/hr. (very tight for a 3000+sf. home). It was therefore designed with an ERV (energy recovery ventilator) to ensure the efficient provision of fresh air to the living spaces .
For heat (beyond the passive solar aspects) a 90-tube evacuated solar collector array provides 100% of the domestic hot water needs and an estimated 40% or more of the remaining space heating. In extended periods of overcast-cold days, an efficient condensing gas boiler provides the extra heat needed.
Finishes, materials, and products were chosen for their functionality and beauty as well as their “greenness” (low-embodied energy, resource efficiency, and low toxin levels). The countertops, range surround and fireplace hearth and surround are precast concrete pieces made by Stone Craft. The cabinetry was provided by Cook & Cook Cabinetry with design assistance by Atmoscape, and manufactured without products that outgas urea formaldehyde. The light fixtures were custom designed with very pleasing results by Burr Chase at Nostalgia lighting, all using compact fluorescent lamps. The toilets are all dual flush, and the other fixtures are low flow. The paints are zero VOC, and any exotic hardwoods are FSC certified.
This home was completed this summer and is on track to receive a Gold LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It is expected to save the owners 70% over what a similar home of “typical” design and construction would spend in energy costs. It is too early to report on any actual savings but we can report that the heat did not come on till very late in October. Check back later as our clients are happy to share with us their utility costs. The idea of making the plans for this house available for sale is also being discussed.