Sustainable Home of Year highlights first planned net-zero subdivision in Routt County
The latest award for Routt County Sustainable Home of the Year — selected by nonprofit Yampa Valley Sustainability Council — honors smart, durable and energy efficient construction. Moreover, the award recognizes the renewable energy goal of Oak Creek Commons to become the first net-zero energy subdivision in Routt County.
Located a block off main street in downtown Oak Creek, the winning two-bedroom home on Wild Hogg Drive is the second house built in a 10-unit planned development that is bringing to life a decade-long dream for Eastman. With buildout in five years, the practical, modern homes will be fully powered by a neighborhood solar garden and rooftop solar installations.
The award-winning efficient home was designed and built by sustainable homebuilder Eric Simonsen, owner of Nordic Custom Constructors in Steamboat Springs since 1999. Simonsen said the tightly built, high performance home was designed and constructed with a focus on details inspired by passive house principles.
The home was recognized in January during the ninth annual Yampa Valley Sustainability Council awards and was selected through a competitive process by a committee of local sustainable construction experts.
Scott Kemp of New Mountain Builders in Steamboat Springs, the builder and owner of the Routt County Sustainable Home of 2018, was pleased that the Wild Hogg project completed testing to verify the home’s predicted performance. Kemp pointed out the neighborhood will include similarly well-constructed and reasonably sized homes and complimented “the builder’s efforts documenting and tracking home performance in an attempt to build better and define the goals for sustainable homes.”
“All of the submittals should be proud of their efforts to build more sustainable homes,” Kemp said. “However, the Wild Hogg project stood out with its more comprehensive approach to and execution of sustainable principles. It displayed a high degree of planning and intent to save energy utilizing extremely high insulation values, passive solar design, modest mechanical systems including a high efficiency heat pump hot water heater, and a small physical and environmental footprint.”
Proof of the pudding for the completed home’s performance is the blower door testing certification of .88 air changes per hour, which shows the home is more than three times tighter than the three air changes per hour required by the base building code.
The mountain contemporary home with simple, clean lines is comfortable and quiet thanks to its 10-inch wall assembly including 6.5 inches in structural insulated panels (SIPS) and 3.1 inches in rigid closed-cell foam (EPS) with foil facing ventilated to rain screen siding.
The second-level, 725-square-foot home is all electrically powered and set on top of a three-car garage with insulated and well-sealing garage doors. The home is actually a secondary unit for the next home to be built on the street, thus the three-car garage can be shared by the residents.
A professional carpenter for eight years, Tanner Coulter currently lives in the home with his wife, 1-year-old son and two dogs. Coulter describes the home as “super” in multiple ways, including being healthy, efficient and rock solid.
“It’s a well thought out home with efficiency at the forefront of design. It lives a lot bigger that it is. Eric is a structurally sound builder. I wouldn’t change a thing.”Tanner Coulter, owner
Developer Eastman said the energy efficient triple-glazed windows on the south, east and west sides of the home were precisely designed to provide good views, cross ventilation in the warmer months and an open feeling without sacrificing energy performance.
“The careful window placement combined with the vaulted ceilings make the house feel much larger than 725 square feet,” Eastman noted.
A communal garage plan where residents can rent garage space for $200 per month for one bay or $250 per month for two bays is just one of the progressive ideas Eastman fashioned for the project. The co-op model also includes a shared equity financing opportunity to help residents get past the homeownership barrier of a 10 to 20 percent down payment. The residents pay market rate rent at $1,400 per month and are invited to become investment partners for a percentage of ownership of the entire development including the solar array, Eastman explained.
The neighborhood is built on 12 city lots with the southern end of the street utilized for the solar array and a neighborhood picnic area. More information about Oak Creek Commons can be found at: www.happylaneocc.com
“They are sustainable homes for real people,” Simonsen said, while wrapping up an on-site tour of the home with its cheerful blue siding. “They are cool little green homes built for regular folks.”
Sustainable features of the 2019 Routt County Sustainable Home of the Year:
- Located on infill development on existing lots within walking distance to town services
- Use of REScheck software analysis that indicates the home would perform 38% better than the baseline of 2015 building codes
- High insulation values for the building envelope including R-42 walls, R-65 roof assembly with a cold roof design, and R-50 floor between the home and garage
- Wide overhangs designed to allow passive solar gain in the winter to warm the dark brown tile floor and to block high summer sun
- Solid foam insulation 4 inches thick on the foundation walls and under the slab
- Full ERV, or Energy Recovery Ventilation, system for both whole-house fresh air and on-demand bathroom ventilation
- 100 percent LED lighting and Energy Star rated appliances including induction cooktop
- Unvented condenser clothes dryer avoids the inefficiency of venting the heated air outside by instead condensing water from the clothes and recirculating the heat
- High-performance front door with a multi-point lock for a tight air seal along with insulating cellular blinds on windows
- 100 percent use of Oak Creek or Routt County subcontractors