Building a new house in the midst of a deep rooted, 100-year-old association on Lake Champlain to meet stringent national LEED guidelines presented an exciting challenge for passionate homeowners.
This 3,883 square foot house was designed in the summer of 2006 by Connor Homes with local Vermont systems consultants, a Vermont Landscape firm, Efficiency Vermont and a local general contractor, Matt Laberge. The integrated project team and the involved owners consulted during various project phases to ensure site protection, house design, energy efficiency and local materials were considered inside and out.
The house was designed with two strategies in mind. First, make the house as naturally energy efficient as possible before mechanical systems were employed. And second, allow the inside and outside to integrate harmoniously. The house was sited for maximum solar exposure during the winter and shading overhangs were designed and calculated to keep the house cool in the summer. In addition, these overhangs protect doors and thresholds from weather for longer durability. The beautiful high energy efficiency French doors and windows grant views of the outdoors in every room and bring the interior and exterior together. Screen and covered porches, covered entries, a balcony and an open deck allow many ways of bringing the two environments together.
The site was a previously developed lot with an existing cottage. The cottage was donated to the local fire department for training purposes after materials were salvaged to be recycled where possible. The site's characteristics had many favorable aspects for rebuilding. It was not in a FEMA defined flood plane, it was not identified as habitat for threatened or endangered species, it was not within 100 feet of wetlands and it was not former parkland or farmland.
Existing topsoil on the site was stockpiled and protected from erosion for reuse. All disturbed soils were stabilized, runoff was controlled with site fencing, swales were used to divert water from sloped areas and storm sewer inlets were protected with straw bales during construction. More then 40% of the 1.44 acre lot was left undisturbed during construction.
The house was panelized and pre-cut at Connor Homes in the fall of 2006 and delivered to the site in staggered and bundled loads. This method of construction, as sited by a NAHB study, can save as much as 26% on wood materials and 37% on-site labor time. The reduced construction duration and the concentrated footprint of building the home in a factory reduces the impact on the environment. The solid wood construction, exterior wood materials such as pressure treated southern yellow pine wood shingles and vertical grain clapboards were chosen for long term durability so that this house would not have to be donated to a local fire department for 150 years or more.
The house is insulated using two methods. The poured concrete foundation is insulated on the inside walls with 2" rigid foam board. The remainder of the house, including the attached carriage barn, is insulated with closed cell icynene spray foam insulation. Foundation walls were insulated at R-13, above grade walls were insulated to R-33 and R-39 and attic and ceilings in both house and carriage house were insulated to R-52 and R-59.
The heat source is an Electric 8.5% HSPF Air Source Heat Pump with a 15 SEER central cooling system. The hot water system is a stand alone electric .84 EF water heater. Energy Star Rated appliances were used such as GE Profile Spacemaker II Microwave Oven, Jenn Air Electric Downdraft Range, Amana Easy Reach Fridge, U-Line Undercounter Fridge and Whirlpool Front loading washers and dryers. Energy Star Rated exhaust fans were installed to meet ASHRAE Standards in baths and kitchen.
The landscape, designed by a certified Vermont firm, was tolerant to Vermont drought levels and would not require irrigation. Permanent storm water controls were used to manage water run-off. 15-gallon trees, 5-gallon shrubs and drought resistant turf seed were planted to shade hardscapes, aesthetically root the house to the site and minimize soil erosion. The mature tree stands along the road and lot hedgerow were protected to serve as shade and buffer zones. The rear portion of the lot was left to wild grasses as a transitional habitat environment between the house and the woodlands.
The house was completed by August 2007. Finish materials included poplar interior trim, locally harvested brown maple and cherry cabinets and millwork, locally harvested oak floors, locally produced lighting fixtures and low VOC paints.
The house is Vermont's third LEED certified house, qualified for Vermont EPACT Energy Efficient Home Tax Credit, received a Vermont Residential Building Energy Standards (REBS) certificate and a 5-Star Plus Home Energy Rating certificate from Efficiency Vermont. During the LEED for Homes durability checklist, this home exceeded IECC requirements for climate zone, went through an Energy Star Thermal Bypass inspection, pre-drywall, and thermal image scanning to test thermal performance of envelope. As well the house exceeded Energy Star for Windows requirements with U values of .320. Windows and doors use glazing that blocks the most destructive UV radiation. The house passed a blower door test for air infiltration.
The Henry Allerton Lake House won best national panelized house from 2,400 to 4,000 square feet as awarded by the National Association of Home Builders Building System Council.
Finally, the house was designed and built to be timeless and beautiful. A beautiful house on the landscape, well sited and designed by borrowing from local vernacular styles, is a home that will be cared for and passed on from generation to generation.
The house was completed by August 2007. We thank the owners who came to us for this project. It was an enjoyable experience. Thank you Dick and Margo.