Project Architect | Christopher Briley, RA, LEED-AP
Conceptual Project | December 2006
The Maine State Housing Authority hosted a design competition inviting architects, builders, students and anyone else, to submit plans for an affordable house design that was affordable, innovative, and easily reproduced. Each design submitted was to be buildable at a construction cost of 150 thousand dollars or less (excluding site). Green Design Studio submitted the Attainable Sustainable House.
Simplicity of form and energy efficiency makes this design affordable. Its rectangular footprint, mono-pitched roof, structural insulated panel (SIP) wall construction, and single span joists simplify construction, yielding a very cost effective home. The passive solar design contributes 46% of the home’s annual heating needs while shading it from summer sun. The high efficiency gas boiler, in combination with the solar hot water system, makes up the remainder at an estimated annual cost of only 540 dollars.
Quality of Spaces
The living spaces are pushed to the south to take advantage of the natural daylight while the utility and support spaces are pushed to the north. The house features a wall of water columns that will capture the light from the only north facing window so that they will glow and add a peaceful, unique point of interest for the living room and the stairs They will also add thermal mass and aid in thermal transfer between floors. The finish materials chosen speak of quality. Bamboo floors, polished concrete, and paperstone counters, give the owner the evidence that quality need not be sacrificed for affordability. The energy recovery ventilator in combination with the natural air flow through the home will ensure a fresh and healthy atmosphere.
In addition to the features mentioned above the house also takes advantage of prevailing winds to reinforce the natural convection of air within the home by having the first floor casement windows open to the west to catch the breeze while the second floor windows open to the east to draw the air out of the house. There is also a manual exterior shading device that provides shade in the summer and solar gain in winter. Throughout the design environmentally-friendly materials and products were used.
The home’s size, shape, orientation, and passive solar design leverage the elements to reduce the demand for energy required to heat and cool the house. With a tight and well insulated exterior envelope, heat loss (or gain) to the exterior is greatly reduced also saving energy.
The simple form, SIP wall construction, and single-span floor members, make this home easy to construct and replicate.
Energy calculations and consultation was provided by Michael Mayhew of Heliotropic Technologies. Budgetary consultation was provided by Joshua Fedorka of Symphony Construction.