• The siding is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified white cedar shakes. White cedar is harvested here in the NE. The FSC certification means that the wood was harvested from a forest that is managed for sustainability.
• The stone veneer on the house walls, as well as the fireplaces and chimney, was harvested from the property and other local sources.
• The premium roof is a recycled rubber and plastic product that looks like traditional slate. It comes with a 50-year warranty.
• The solar thermal panels on the roof convert sunlight to heat that is used to warm a 1,000-gallon water tank in the mechanical room. The hot water in the tank is used to heat the house, the domestic hot water, and the outdoor pool.
• The swimming pool has an automatic cover to minimize heat loss so that solar energy can provide 100% of the heat needed to warm the water.
• The pool’s water will be sanitized without chemicals using a copper ionization system.
• The pole-mounted PV (photovoltaic) panels convert sunlight to electricity that is used either directly in this home or is returned to the grid to power other homes. This system generates more electricity than is used in the home.
• The kitchen counters are made locally in Brooklyn from 100% recycled glass in a cement matrix.
• The center island & desktops are made from reclaimed oak.
• The wood flooring throughout the house is reclaimed red and white oak.
• The backsplash tiles are made by hand in New Hampshire from natural stoneware clay materials.
• The under-cabinet lights are highly energy-efficient LED’s (light-emitting diodes). LED technology is evolving rapidly, and lights like these will soon be available for many additional home applications.
• All of the kitchen appliances are ENERGY STAR rated by the US EPA.
• The cooktop uses induction to heat the cookware directly, rather than heating the cooktop first and then the cookware, as all conventional cooktops do. This not only increases the energy efficiency but also allows for greater control of low-temperature settings.
• This refrigerator is the only ENERGY STAR rated model offered by this manufacturer.
• Most of the windows are triple glazed with two layers of low-E coatings and two ½” air spaces filled with argon gas with a U-value of 0.21, which equates to about an R-5.
• The above-grade walls are framed with 2×6’s at 24” on center, with additional 2×3 horizontal strapping to allow more room for insulation and to eliminate most thermal bridges. Insulation consists of 7” of spray foam (R-31)
• The roof is framed with 2×12’s at 24” on center, with additional 2×3 horizontal strapping to allow more room for insulation and to eliminate most thermal bridges. Insulation consists of 13” of spray foam (R-58)
• Beams in the main living areas and front of the house are eastern hemlock and were harvested locally from a forest that has been managed by one family for sustainable yield for over a century.
• The lighting throughout the house is primarily a mix of fluorescent fixtures and compact fluorescent bulbs in standard fixtures. Both are highly energy efficient.
• Most of the windows face solar south and collect heat from the sun during the day, which is stored in the concrete floor and then released at night to reduce the heat load.
• The concrete floor is not only heated directly by the sun but also by hot water that runs through PEX tubing in the floor. The hot water comes primarily from solar thermal panels on the roof.
• The fireplace burns wood harvested from the property. It draws combustion air directly from outside the house and has doors that can be closed to isolate combustion from the air in the house, which is an important safety measure in any home, especially a high-performance home.
• The walls and ceiling in the main living areas are finished with a natural plaster made from various clays, sand, and reclaimed marble.
Master Bedroom & Bath
• Although the toilet looks like any other, it does not use water but instead incorporates a composting system, of which the business end can be seen in the basement. There are no odors and only minor maintenance associated with this system.
• The whirlpool bathtub and shower share a single efficient space with a European style floor drain.
• The tile on the bathroom floor is installed over a 2-1/4” concrete floor that is heated by hot water that runs through PEX tubing in the floor. The hot water comes primarily from the solar thermal panels on the roof.
• The wall and floor tiles are made by hand in New Hampshire from natural clay materials. These tiles are seconds, with minor defects that contribute to their character.
Mechanical Room #1
• The basement walls are a pre-cast concrete stud wall system, with additional 2×3 horizontal strapping to allow more room for insulation and to eliminate most thermal breaks. Insulation consists of 1” of rigid foam board, plus 8-3/4” of spray foam (R-39 total)
• The concrete floor slab sits on a 6” bed of crushed stone (to keep it dry) and 2” of XPS foam board insulation (R-10)
• This 1,000-gallon water tank is used like a battery to store heat created by several sources, including the solar thermal panels on the roof, the pellet boiler, and the back-up propane boiler. The heat is used to heat the house, the domestic hot water, and the pool during the summer months.
• This wood-pellet boiler is a new European model with an efficiency factor greater than 90%. It functions completely automatically, requiring no tending by the homeowner.
• This propane boiler is fully modulating and features condensing technology for efficiency of 95%. It is only used if the solar panels and pellet boiler have not satisfied the heat load requirements.
• The root cellar is kept cool naturally by the earth and is ventilated with air drawn through underground pipes that deliver ground-cooled fresh air.
Mechanical Room #2
• This is an ERV (energy recovery ventilator) that works 24/7 to bring a measured amount of fresh air into the house. During the cold months, it transfers the heat and moisture from the exhaust air to the fresh air for exceptional energy efficiency. It does the same thing in reverse during the warm months of the year.
• The business end of the composting toilet in the master bath is shown to the right. It allows for the compost to be turned and agitated occasionally with the handles shown on the face. It has its own ecosystem of live beneficial bacteria that break down the waste into humus, which is great for the soil. Within a year, a rich compost is ready to fertilize the garden.
• The greywater system seen to the lower left is the first approved by the Department of Health for a home in Connecticut. Shower and sink drain water is filtered through peat moss and then used to provide toilet water for the conventional toilets in the house.
• This is an ingenious wastewater heat recovery device that operates without the use of electricity or fuel of any kind. Drain water from the shower above runs down the sides of a copper drain pipe that has been wrapped by a coiled copper cold water supply line that passively recovers approximately 30-40% of the heat in the wastewater before continuing on to supply lukewarm water to the shower above. This means that less conventionally heated water is required to achieve a hot shower.
Stormwater is managed in a number of ways:
• A bio-swale runs across the front of the house down the left side to a rain garden in the rear. The bio-swale soaks up a great deal of stormwater with compacted crushed stone and plantings that tolerate both wet and dry conditions. It also catches sediment in many small plunge pools before it can enter the rain garden.
• Any remaining stormwater is conducted by the bio-swale to a 1,800sf rain garden that soaks up stormwater with a special soil mix (sand, compost, and topsoil) and a special planted mix with species that tolerate both saturated and dry soil conditions
• Rainwater from the roof is collected and diverted to four 80 gallon barrels, and two 1,250 gallon cisterns equipped with solar-powered pumps to irrigate the landscaping.
• The stone terraces are laid over a crushed stone base to allow stormwater to soak into the ground. There is also a passive drainage swale under the patio that conducts roof and surface water into the rain garden pre-filter.
• The driveway will be is surfaced with compacted local stone (no petrochemical binders) that allows stormwater to soak into the ground.
• All topsoil is indigenous to the site itself.
• All 35,000 landscaping plants are native to the northeast.
• 90% of the stone used for landscaping purposes comes from the site itself. The remainder is sourced locally.
• Cedar poles were sustainably harvested with the bark left on for greater durability
• The irrigation system has 20 zones and utilizes both drip and micro-spray water distribution for the most efficient use of water.
• A wide variety of vegetables and fruit will be grown, according to a program that complies with standards set by the Northeast Organic Farming Association:
- The orchard has cherry, apple, pear, peach, and plum trees.
- Brambles will include raspberry, & blackberry; and there are blueberry bushes, too. (blueberries are not brambles)
- Permaculture landscaping will includes edible greens such as herbs and lettuce.
- In the 4,000sf garden, organic vegetables will be grown for the owners and to be widely distributed within the community.
• Groundcovers include the following:
- Small turf areas are planted with a low maintenance, low growing, fescue mix.
- A low-growing clover in the orchard is planted with a low growing clover to produce free organic nitrogen for the orchard trees.
- A meadow area is planted with a mix of native wildflowers and native grasses.