a blog about the design and construction of a new, near net-zero, LEED platinum targeted house in portland, maine.  the focus is:

  • site constraints of a small, in-town lot located in an established neighborhood.
  • building design considerations including green building strategies.
  • specific owner/occupant requirements.  jessica is a c6/c7 quadriplegic.
  • architect/client are also father/daughter.
  • two big dogs, murphy and cash.

has the makings of a reality tv show, huh????  for more information, read on….

This two-story house for a young couple, Jessica and Todd, demonstrates how a small, sustainable residence built with a moderate budget can fit into an older neighborhood in support of a more sustainable lifestyle. Occupying a small infill lot near the campus of the University of Southern Maine, this building will consist of simple rectilinear volumes with a series of outdoor rooms –  entry court, rear patio, and roof-top terrace/green roof.  This small, tight, well-insulated house will be constructed of durable/low-maintenance materials on an urban infill lot and will optimize use of on-site renewable energy to provide a near net-zero living solution for its owners/occupants.

Basic building design and massing is fine-tuned in response to detailed solar studies.  The building envelope was carefully considered to optimize performance, constructability and low-maintenance. Jessica is a quadriplegic.  Therefore, equal and careful consideration was given to accessibility issues within the house. High-performance requirements are two-fold – environmental and accessibility.

A small house (2,045 s.f.) is key, for environmental and fiscal reasons. A rigorous and thoughtful building program provides the essentials – three small bedrooms plus two studios (the residents primarily work out of the house).  The building is founded on a slab-on-grade (no basement) to conserve energy and dollars.  Durable, low-maintenance exterior materials include metal siding, cement-fiber clapboards and standing-seam metal roof.

High-performance building features include insulation values of R-49 walls, R-98 roof, R-30 foundation and R-6 windows; on-site renewable energy to be solar hot water and photovoltaic; low-e, argon-filled, aluminum clad, tilt-turn windows with U-values and Solar Heat Gain Coefficients tuned to solar exposure will balance heat loss and solar gain; and, exterior sheathing (air barrier) coupled with advanced air-sealing techniques to allow for targeted air leakage rate of 0.5 ACH at 50Pa (ten times better than an Energy Star house).