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8/5/2018 » 8/8/2018
ASES 2018 Solar Conference

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Green Building Spotlight: Farmhouse
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The owners came to Rodwin Architecture + Skycastle Construction, an integrated design/build firm, asking for a modern interpretation of a traditional farmhouse. Rodwin’s designers holistically integrated the owners’ passion for sustainability with a livable, functional, and replicable single family home. A “regenerative” building, producing more energy than it consumes, Farmhouse achieved a HERS negative 8 rating, Energy Star v.3.0 and LEED Platinum Certification. Most of all, Farmhouse embodies the owners’ desire to tread lightly on the earth.

Skycastle began by deconstructing the dilapidated existing house and donating its materials to ReSource.  Rodwin’s team sited the new house in the previously-disturbed area to protect the soil and the existing nearby marsh. The remaining site was devoted to permaculture and urban agriculture (there’s even a little passive solar chicken coop/greenhouse). The roof and gutter systems direct water into the gardens and rainwater harvesting barrels.

Farmhouse’s floor plan balanced a modern, open layout with the owners’ desire for a traditional feel. Their passion is their connection to the land, and we opened the house on all sides to views, porches and garden access, which also helps the house live larger than its square footage. The architects incorporated universal design principles, providing for a future Master Suite on the first floor with an accessible shower. Most spaces serve at least two functions; the owner’s favorite detail is a custom designed Guest Room Murphy bed that folds out into a giant sewing table like a Transformer.

Farmhouse was carefully and primarily arranged for optimal passive solar design. The majority of windows face south and each area of glazing was specifically protected and “tuned” to let in and capture just the right amount of daylight.

The building’s envelope is a double stud wall, responding to the owners’ request for a solid, old-world feel, while simultaneously providing a large cavity for insulation and an air gap to eliminate thermal bridging. Foam insulation, insulated fiberglass doors, and Energy Star windows complete the envelope. We used a ground source heat pump, an ERV, 95% LED lighting, Energy Star appliances, and a 10kW solar PV system to complete the Net Positive Energy package. Xeriscaping and low-flow EPA Watersense plumbing fixtures throughout conserve water. Beetle kill pine soffits and cabinetry, composite decking and FSC certified trim preserve forests. Low- and no-VOC finishes were used throughout to protect occupant health.

What makes this project truly special for the architects and builders is how this conventionally attractive, cost-effective design was precisely tailored to the owners’ needs and simultaneously achieved an uncompromised level of sustainability.


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