At first glance, the Single-Family Sustainable residence doesn’t scream “green building.” But while the home’s traditional, barn-inspired style meshes well with its Saratoga Springs, N.Y., locale, a laundry list of high-performance features and products—for which it achieved the highest levels of both LEED for Homes and the National Green Building Standard—quickly set this dwelling apart.
“The home integrates modern open-floor-plan living with a traditional local vernacular,” describes project architect Phinney Design Group. The airy layout promotes livability as well as daylight distribution and passive ventilation, including a three-level central stair topped with a clerestory and a cupola that creates a natural stack effect to exhaust summer heat.
Energy performance is assured with an 8-kW solar array, solar water heating with tankless backup, high-efficiency HVAC, spray-foam and cellulose insulation to R-21 in the walls and R-40 in the ceiling, low-E insulated windows, cool roofing, and overhangs. A concrete floor provides thermal mass in the south-facing three-season sunroom. The efforts paid off, as the judges praised the home for achieving a HERS rating of 27 despite its 4,000-square-foot size.
“The mission of the project was to build a house that suits the physical, aesthetic, and ethical needs of the clients’ family,” the design team says. “Within these objectives, building a green home that was healthy, minimally impactful to the earth, and more conservative with natural and economic resources both in construction and during its lifetime was all vital.”
In keeping with those goals, sustainability and durability decisions touch nearly every aspect of the house, including locally sourced cedar siding, stone, and cabinetry; moisture-resistant sheathing; dual-flush toilets, drip irrigation, and rainwater harvesting; and low-VOC paints and heat recovery ventilation.