Project Architect | Christopher Briley, RA, LEED-AP
Contractor | Symphony Construction
Location | Freeport, Maine
Completed | 2006
We are very proud to be able to say that this is the first home in New England to receive a LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Building on the success of the original Harmony House, this four-bedroom version was constructed in the same manner, using an appealing passive solar design based on low toxicity and energy and resource efficiency. However, unlike its predecessor, this home features a geo-exchange heat pump system (or geothermal system). In a nut shell, this system uses electricity to move heat, as opposed to generating it, by use of an electric heat pump. This heat pump is then made more efficient by using the constant temperature of the earth (the water in the slightly larger domestic well) to moderate the extreme temperatures generated by the expanded refrigerant within the pump. The end result is a combustion-free house whose total energy bill (for a family of three) from June 2007 to June 2008 was just over a thousand dollars. The home boasts a low air infiltration rate of 1.1 air changes per hour at 50 pascals of pressure (ACH50)and a Natural air changes per hour (NACH) rate of 0.07.
Chris Briley often states, “A healthy home leaks. An energy-efficient home controls how it leaks.” For this reason, Opus II features a HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator) similar to that of the original Harmony house that continually provides fresh air at moderated humidity levels.
Scrolling through the pictures here on this web page, many of the environmentally friendly features can be seen: the solarium, Paperstone countertops, bamboo floors, an efficient fireplace with external make-up air, zero VOC paint, urea formaldehyde free cabinets, doors and other wood products, Marvin Ultimate windows, toxin-free and drought tolerant landscaping, Energystar appliances, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and non-PVC siding including local sustainably harvested white cedar Maibec shingles.
Many other features are not shown such as the energy and resource efficient balloon framing, the 2″ concrete radiant slabs, ICF (Insulated Concrete Form) foundation walls, and the ABS plumbing. Except for the jacketing of electrical wiring, this house is PVC-free! One other feature that is not physically seen but is evident, is the high levels of insulation. Please note in the last photo (the one shot in winter) the snow has started to melt. It has melted at the eaves first. This well insulated house actually insulates the snow more from the warm house than it does from the exterior air. No ice dams for this house.