Renewable Energy & Sustainable Design in Buildings Awards
2012 RESIDENTIAL AWARDS
Construction | Pioneer |
Residential, New Construction:
Lance Wright and K.K. DuVivier
This 2,140 square foot three-bedroom three-bath home, with
a HERS rating of 33, built in 2008 / 2009 near the University of
Denver, was designed to be a “Near Passive House” home. The house
includes one solar thermal panel and a small 3.3 kW PV array which
makes it also a “Near Net Zero” home.
1960 S. Gilpin
Street, Denver, CO. 80210
For Questions or for a tour:
This 2140 square foot home was designed in 2007 and built by the
owners: K. K. DuVivier, DU Professor of Law, and Lance Wright, President
of Green Energy Man, Inc. in 2008.
This location was chosen
because it is within walking distance of DU and a Light Rail stop, as
well as being about one mile from Safeway. (Lance was especially
excited to learn that the original Chipotle’s Restaurant is only one
and one/half blocks away!
This house is one of the most energy
efficient houses in Colorado, as it was built following Passivhaus
principles. The energy use data collected for 2010 and 2011 prove that
the house is a Near Net Zero Energy House with only one solar-thermal
panel and a small 3.3 KW Photovoltaic Array. The total energy cost for
each of the last two years was right at $300.
It must be
noted, however, that even though this house is an extremely good
house, it falls a little short of meeting the Passive House Energy
Standard and can only be called a “Near” Passive House. Lance designed
and built the house before he was fully trained as a Certified Passive
House Consultant and made a few small, but difficult to correct,
mistakes that add up enough to keep the house from actually qualifying
as a Passive
DuVivier – Wright
Type of Construction
Built in 2008 following these Passive House principles:
- “Tight” construction with
Energy Recovery Ventilation,
- no thermal bridges, at least, no
unmitigated thermal bridges and
- strategically placed windows.
Building Components /Thermal Envelope and Comfort Considerations
- Walls: Nominal 42 R-Value. Actual R-Value is 34.
Concrete slab insulated by Extruded Polystyrene (“Blue Board”) to a
true R-Value of 40.
- Ceiling: Floor of attic flash sealed with
spray foam and buried under blown-in cellulose to R-70
- Windows: “Serious Materials” R-5, Low –E, Triple-pane,
- Many in south wall, few in other walls.
- High “Solar Heat Gain Coefficient” in south
- Eave design shades windows for improved energy efficiency
and all season comfort
- CFL and LED
- Interior wall windows allow natural light deep into
- Strategic window placement: optimize
south windows, minimize east, west and north.
- Eaves and
structures shade correctly.
- Trees and vines shade windows and walls correctly
- Moderate “Thermal Mass” in floor and walls with 5/8inch
drywall, creates “thermal inertia”
- Solar Electric PV approx 3.3KW
- Solar Thermal domestic hot water.
One 4x8 flat panel collector, 80 gal. tank elec. Backup.
space heating for spring and fall using ventilation system to
distribute warm air heated by the DHW tank.
Star rated: Refrigerator, dishwasher, 32 inch LED TV
- Condensing clothes dryer (No vent to outside!)
- “Switched” wall electrical outlets and surge protectors to manage
- Low Flow and/or duel flush
- Native plant or edible xeriscape landscape plus vegetable
gardens and a grape arbor (which shades a west wall in summer.
- Pervious courtyard and some sidewalks
- Organic Gardening
- Expanding orchard area
- KK walks to work. Lance walks to grocery store
- Kitchen countertop made from sunflower seed hulls.
carpet made from recycled beverage containers.
- 1,800 brick pavers
salvaged from previous house used in courtyard.
- Habitat for
Humanity salvaged appliances and fixtures from old house.
KK teaches Energy Law at DU
and recently wrote, The Renewable Energy Reader. TRER
is a law text book that teaches a bit of science and technology, too.
KK supports a low impact lifestyle writing, talking and testifying in
support of renewable energy, in general, and solar access and
distributed power in particular.
Lance is an energy efficiency
consultant, specializing in the Passive House Energy Efficient
Building Standard. As a Board Member of the National Passive House
Alliance,US and as the President of the Denver Chapter of the PHAUS,
Lance spends a considerable amount of time in public outreach
Residential Pioneer Award:
van der Mersch Residence
Pieter and Martha van der Mersch
This 2,800 sf 4-bedroom home in North
Boulder built in 1991 features a 4 kW photovoltaic system and a
domestic water heating system that contributes to 80% of the water
heating load and many smart energy efficiency features. This project
is a great example of how to integrate sustainability features and how
cost-effective energy conservation can be.
840 Quince Avenue
Pieter & Martha van der Mersch
1. Renewable Energy Features:
- Passive solar heating
- Excellent daylighting on all sides. Borrowed daylight to interior
- Solar domestic-water heating – Installed when house
Per f-Chart, solar contribution was determined to be
- Solar-electric system (4 kW) – Installed in 2006.
- High-efficiency condensing furnace with
7-day programmable thermostat with 4-settings per day.
- Based on
actual consumption, we estimate the natural-gas consumption is approx.
20% of what a regular house this size would use in Boulder.
Interestingly, on sunny winter days, the furnace will not go on
regardless how cold it is. Per utility summary for 2011-2012,
consumption for the year was 118 Therms for 5,278 Heating Degree-Days.
This gives us 2,060 Btu/Degree-Day, and for 2,800 Sq. Ft.: 0.74
This gas consumption includes back-up domestic
water heating and gas clothes dryer.
- Adding the solar-electric
system reduced our utility consumption by ~70%, determined by
comparing yearly data taken from the utility’s watt-hour meter and the
solar-electric monitor. Per 2011-12 utility summary presented below,
total consumption for the year was 3,140 kWh (1.12 kWh/Sq. Ft.- Yr.)
which peaks in the winter because our elderly father needs to operate
an electric heater in his bedroom to maintain ~76 degrees F.
have had a 2400 kWh/year Wind Source contract for many years, which
almost covers the electricity not produced by the solar-electric
- Indirect/Direct (Master Cool) evaporative cooling, which
is manually staged starting with airside-economizer cooling, and then
either or both of the evap-cooling modes, depending on forecasted
outdoor night-time temperatures. The house is so well insulated and
has enough thermal mass that it can be sub-cooled at night (off-peak
hours) down to ~65 degrees F and not require daytime cooling. Cooling
is typically started between 8 and 10 PM in the middle of the summer,
and it turns off automatically with a thermostat. Windows are closed
during the day, and certain windows are opened at night for
- The roof joists have a vertical 14-inch leg
along the perimeter to allow full-depth attic insulation,
substantially reducing heat loss and eliminating the possibility of
- Roof overhangs were designed to allow maximum solar
gain in the winter and minimal gain in the summer in the upper level.
The lower level is partly underground and maintains temperatures
ranging from 65 to 75 degrees through-out the year.
drywall approach was used to practically eliminate infiltration and
for the vapor barrier, eliminating the need for polyethylene “vapor
barriers” that break down over time. All perimeter electrical outlet
and switch boxes were foam-sealed or caulked to eliminate
- Air-to-air energy-recovery ventilator that has
operated 24/7 since the house was built.
- Cellulose insulation
(recycle newsprint paper) for all interior and attic insulation. This
was one of the few available recycled materials at that time.
- Low-flow plumbing fixtures since the house was built.
tall-fescue lawn to meet home-owners association requirements with
large-droplet sprinkler system on a timer that is adjusted to minimize
water consumption. Only one application of fertilizer in the fall.
- Drip irrigation is used extensively for flower beds and vegetable
- No dirt was hauled off the site, since the dirt that was
dug out was used for a berm on the back side of the property. All the
wood scraps could fit under a folding card table and were recycled.
Drywall and other scrap that filled one pick-up truck bed was taking
to the local land-fill.
- An interior environmental feature is the
low noise on windy days because of the airtight construction,
super-insulated walls and well-insulate attic, and Heat Mirror glazing
in casement, awning and picture windows.
3. Energy Conservation
- Nominal R-30 above-grade walls: two-coat stucco
exterior, 1.5-inch polyurethane insulation, ½-inch plywood sheathing,
2x6 studs on 24-inch centers (sprayed-on cellulose insulation), and
½-inch interior drywall. Below-grade insulation: exterior R-10
closed-cell polystyrene, 8-inch concrete foundation, 2x4 interior
furring on 24-inch centers with sprayed-on cellulose insulation.
Under-floor insulation four-feet in from perimeter: 2-inch closed-cell
- R-45 cellulose attic insulation extending
full-depth to the perimeter.
- Insulated metal doors with magnetic
- Wood-frame windows with extruded-aluminum
exterior and ”tuned” Heat Mirror glazing (HM88 on south and north and
HM66 on east and west, and either argon or xenon fill in the replaced
glazing – almost all of it). Most of the replaced south glazing has a
center-of-glass R-value of 9 due to the Xenon fill.
heat-recovery ventilator (ERV) which is the only exhaust for the
bathrooms, laundry room and vicinity of the kitchen, with over-ride
switches for timed operation of high-speed exhaust.
construction, which was proven to be so because the kitchen hood
exhaust would not work unless the kitchen window was opened.
- Kitchen hood exhaust has a motorized damper interlocked with the fan
motor that also opens a bypass on the ERV to provide make-up air.
- Sealed-combustion back-up domestic-water heater and
sealed-combustion condensing furnace.
- Low-wattage lighting with
3-way and 4-way switching to facilitate turning lights on and off.
Occupancy switch in a walk-in closet.
- All the
energy-conservation features, except for the active solar systems, had
a simple payback of 2 to 3 years!
- Trees were planted in 1986 on
the east and west side to provide shading from late Spring through
- Windows were placed to provide uniform solar gain
and distinct views of the outdoor landscaping, and good daylighting.
- We have given presentations and given tours
over the years to prospective owner-builders and university students.
We have a PowerPoint presentation showing the construction process and
- The house is in a publicly viewable
location in North Boulder.
Golden Oldy Cyclery & Sustainability/ Stevens
& Paul Kvasnovsky
This passive solar conversion of a 1979 home
features many solar and energy efficiency gadgets including envelope
south walls, airlocks, super insulation (R-100 roof, R-68 walls),
sealing, thermal mass, and daylighting floors. The foot wide envelope
feeds the attic to heat the home. This attic area serves not just as
collector but as an accessible solar food dryer for greenhouse and
garden produce. The lowest level of the passive addition is the
greenhouse incorporating a climate battery as well as water based
thermal storage. The home overproduces over 9,000 KWH per year which
has been fed to the grid.
Electricity Since 2006.
total Energy since 2008
Negative SINCE 2008
Producing Fruit (Tropical and Temperate)
and Vegetables from
the former landscaped
0.19 Acre lot.
2 Plug In Cars… While Selling ~ 8500 KWH surplus power back … to
the grid annually from the Rooftop.
Museum Powered By the SUN & FOOD POWERED BY the SUN, BIOCHAR and
ALPACA POO… and delivered FARM to TABLE by FOOT”
The goal is
to disconnect from the natural gas line.
Transfer box - in the attic - in preparation for applying wiring and
It has 2 chambers:
The left is the output
chamber feeding the powered and heated air to the
through two 12-inch ducts... and to the master bath (and hall) through
one 10-inch duct.... and down through the old chimney chase to the
Utility room (with the heat pump water heater) through one 6-inch duct
which is slipped down the old furnace flue.
The Furnace blower
motor is in the right chamber (the input chamber) ... and the inputs
from the sunroom (two 10-inch insulated Ducts at right and one one
10-inch on opposite side) Will supply the sun warmed air.
whole box is lined with aluminum coated fiberglass matting... on top
of a Poly-Iso R-10 box. Everything is caulked and taped with Aluminum
Tape for total seal.
The 4 speed blower motor will be only
wired for 2 of the settings: 1/5th HP and 1 /3. If I want to change
that later I can have it be up to 3/4 HP. There will be a user select
on the 2 available speeds adjacent to the hall thermostat.
Thermostats will also control operation:
the hall to specify demand (standard line switching heating
in the upper sunroom to specify if the sunroom has the adequate
heat to send ( a standard line power Evaporative Cooling thermostat)