Solar Power

    Heating the house. Seven 4'x8' solar collectors installed along the driveway provide most of the heat for domestic hot water and are a secondary source of heat for the radiant floor heating system. They produce 500-1,000 BTU/sq.ft/day, depending on the amount of sunlight that day. The array produces roughly 100,000-200,000 BTU/day, the equivalent of 1-2 therms of natural gas/day. The annual gas bill for this 4,000 square foot house is about $700.

    Producing electricity. Photovoltaic (PV) slates on the three south-facing roof surfaces generate roughly 80 percent of the total electricity used during the year. On sunny days, excess electricity that is generated is sold to ComEd, which in turn provides electricity to the house on cloudy days and at night. There are a total of 480 slates, each rated at 13.3 watts/slate, making it a 6.4 kilowatt system (480 x 13.3 = 6,384 watts). The annual electrical bill for the house is under $400.

Water Conservation

    Recharging groundwater. Two types of permeable pavers are used for the driveway and parking area. They help stop runoff into the storm sewer and allow rainwater to replenish the water table.

    Harvesting rainwater. Rainwater from the roof is collected in a 1000-gallon in-ground cistern and is used for landscape irrigation.


General Features

    Tight construction (e.g., framing, walls, roofing, insulation, caulking) was emphasized throughout the building process. In a 2003 energy audit, the house earned a HERS Score of 92.7 for certification as an ENERGY STAR home.

    Flooring is made of bamboo, a renewable product that can be harvested in five years. (A typical hardwood floor is made from 80+-year-old trees.)

    Wood used throughout the house is FSC-certified as coming from sustainably-managed forests. (The Forest Stewardship Council is an independent, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization promoting standards addressing environmental, social and economic issues.)

    Compact fluorescent lighting is used in almost all parts of the house. CFLs use 70 percent less electricity than do incandescent bulbs and last up to ten times longer.

    Triple-glazed windows provide excellent insulation from winter winds and summer heat. Diligent use of window shades provides further insulation from cold and heat.

    Dual-flush toilets reduce water consumption by more than 5,000 gallons/year. (Dual-flush toilets allow the user to select either a full 1.6-gallon flush or a "liquid only" 0.8-gallon flush.)

    High-efficiency ceiling fans have been installed in many of the rooms. Made by Hampton Bay and available through Home Depot, the fans have dimmable fluorescent bulbs.

    The Energy Star dishwasher and front-loading washing machine have high water- and energy-efficiency ratings. Both use less water than conventional models and thereby require less energy to heat the water consumed.

First Floor -- Additional Features

    The ground floor is wheelchair-accessible. There are no stairs at the entryway, doors are at least 32" wide, and the bathroom features an accessible sink, walk-in shower, and multiple grab bars (including one that serves as a towel rack).

    The vestibule/airlock at the front door keeps cold air from entering the main part of the house. A back hallway serves a similar function for those entering from the garage and from the exterior door on the north side of the house.

    The tile used for the kitchen backsplash is made of recycled glass, from Bedrock Industries.

    The extremely efficient RSF advanced combustion fireplace draws in outside air for combustion (rather than pulling warm indoor air up the chimney as conventional fireplaces do). It has two combustion zones; air fed into the second zone ignites the incomplete combustion products that would otherwise go up the chimney, causing air pollution.

    Marmoleum flooring used in the back hallway (and the 2nd floor laundry room) is a biodegradable material made of natural ingredients.

Belvedere (3rd floor)

    The open stairwell provides natural stack ventilation. By opening the windows on the ground floor and in the belvedere, warm indoor air moves up and out the windows at the top.

Website prepared by Eleanor Revelle.
Last revised: January 2014