Posted: November 02, 2011
Colorado Sustainable Design Awards: Single family residential
Phantom Canyon Ranch
Architect/Interior Design: MQ Architecture & Design
General Contractor: Merten Inc.
Completed in September 2009, Phantom Canyon Ranch is a LEED Gold certified house of 3,012 square feet nestled inside Phantom Canyon Nature Preserve in Livermore, Colo.
The home's immediate neighbors include hummingbirds, black bear, bobcat and other wildlife. Minimizing the environmental footprint was extremely important to all parties, thus the importance of achieving LEED Gold standards. Also Phantom Canyon is a development in a nature preserve, and the community is promoted through its strong hyper-green identity and encourages or mandates green community planning. The site selection, home layout and adhering to requirements such as a 25-foot building height limit were vital to the planning success.
"The site was totally wild, and was basically kept in its original and unmolested state," the project's entry stated. "The house was placed in such a way that it did not disturb any of the existing trees or boulders. Locally sourced boulder walls and gravel swales provide runoff control."
›› Structural insulated panels for walls and roof, radiant heat, beetle-kill pine flooring.
›› Reclaimed concrete roof tiles support a generous roof-flush system of both photovoltaic panels and evacuated solar thermal tubes. (A battery back-up system will keep the refrigerator and select radiant zones fueled during power outages.)
›› No irrigation system was installed as all disturbed areas were reseeded with native grasses.
›› The appropriately small-sized exterior patios are concrete pavers, and all parking surfaces and walkways are gravel to minimize runoff and maximize storm water infiltration.
›› Exterior lighting is all covered or points down to minimize light pollution.
›› The house orientation is 12 degrees off the east-west axis based on true north to maximize solar gain for passive heating. This layout, combined with its placement on the lot, selection of windows, use of deep porches and other features creates a house that is extremely comfortable to live in and requires minimal mechanical input.
›› The alternative energy systems installer gave multiple training sessions with the homeowner and a maintenance manual was provided by the builder. The owner worked with the builder and systems installer to fine-tune the performance of the radiant system through the first heating season.
Architect/Interior Design: Merten Design Studio
General Contractor: Merten Inc.
Builder: Merten Construction
Completed in August, this 4,293-square foot house in Denver's Highlands neighborhood was designed in the authentic art moderne or "streamline" style. The home was originally designed to be modular because of the rectangular lot. However, the level of detail and complexity of the home's architecture prohibited this type of building. The decision was to go with standard framing with spray-in insulation.
The aim was to create a whole-systems-energy-efficent home that would provide innovative energy capture and flow; on-site food production (both indoor and outdoor); and symmetrical and sensible balance of form and function. The home also features a walk-out mother-in-law suite and 756-square-foot garage with a large workshop.
›› Timed exterior irrigation provides optimal garden hydration, and garden areas are located mid-to-down slope to channel water where it will be of most benefit.
›› Active energy strategies: Seamless interplay of energy capture and release includes geothermal energy, heat recovery ventilator, photovoltaics and programmable thermostats.
›› Passive energy strategies: southern exposure, dual-paned low-e windows, open floor plan. Solatubes - portholes - used in interior greenhouse and select bathrooms.
Living Framework House
Architect: Hangar 41 Architecture LLC
Located in the Stapleton neighborhood, the house is close to many local shops and restaurants to serve the needs of the owners, at the same time reducing the number of vehicle miles traveled. Narrow and tall, the house responds to the form of the original Stapleton flight control tower, which can be viewed from the home's decks. As another gesture to the history of the site, aluminum siding that was formerly aircraft skin is used at the rear of the house.
By building a narrow footprint, much of the building lot is retained for landscaping, allowing ground filtration of water where formerly it was blocked, and maximizing the usable outdoor space for gatherings.
The design team was made up of six individuals, but often as many as 12 people were involved. "What became of the process was what we termed ‘Design Darwinism' and the best ideas kept surfacing within the more successful designs," the entry from Hangar 41 Architecure stated.
›› Geothermal heating with solar thermal and photovoltaic systems.
›› The roof is slanted on two axes to direct rainwater to the green wall, where it filters down to a capture basin in the underground garage. The water is then recirculated to water the landscape and replenish the ground water.
›› Integrated into the home's facade is photovoltaic glass on the south side as well as PV panels on the roof that provide at least 50 percent of the home's energy use.