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Modern Net Zero Passive Home in Chapel Hill

Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, Architect

Project Name

Modern Net Zero Passive Home in Chapel Hill

Project Status


Year Completed



2,950 sq. feet

Construction Cost



Kevin Murphy, NewPhire Building


  • Kevin Murphy


  • Plumbing Engineer: Pertsci Building and Renovation
  • Electrical Engineer: Simpson Electrical
  • Lighting Designer: University Lights
  • Technology Integrator: Southern Energy Management

Certifications and Designations



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Project Description

The modern, net zero passive house that architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA , designed for her favorite builder, Kevin Murphy of NewPhire Building and his family of four, is, according to Murphy, “a warm and functional family home as well as a showcase of cutting-edge green building techniques.”

Architecturally, the house effortlessly combines environmental stewardship with the simple volumes, flat rooflines, open floor plan, and indoor-outdoor living that define modern styling. The first floor features a spacious living/dining/kitchen area connected to a screen porch that extends the living space outdoors. The master bedroom wing is located on the first floor with the children’s suite – complete with a multipurpose music and entertainment room – and home office upstairs. Typical of Schechter’s residential work, a private interior courtyard links all spaces together.

The house is located on a 4.3-acre site at the end of a private gravel road that is very secluded yet only a seven-minute drive from Chapel Hill or Carrboro, NC. Despite the size of the lot, stream buffers, setbacks to existing well and septic concerns, and a new leach field left Murphy with a surprisingly small area on which to build his home.

The site’s eastern line runs down to the branch of a small creek. Beyond the creek, dozens of acres of Triangle Land Conservancy property provides a lush buffer for wildlife. The screen porch faces the forest.

Designed to be Net Zero, Murphy's home is already proving to be Net Positive. The 7.9 kW solar array is providing about $30 per month of excess electricity that Murphy intends to use for an electric car. The HERS (Home Energy Rating System) score is a -3 -- a phenomenal score.

As Schechter and Murphy anticipated, the house has earned the National Green Building Standard “Gold” rating.
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