When my friend Scott Rodwin, who’s been practicing and promoting green architecture here in Boulder for years, first told me about the 6,300-square-foot home he’d designed, my initial reaction was not unlike that of many of our readers—too big to be green. I was able to quell that rush to judgment long enough to listen to Scott talk about the house as we finished off our miso soup. By the end of our lunch I was asking him if we could film the building progress for our website and eventually feature the home in Natural Home.
Yes, this house is large. But believe it or not, 6,300 square feet (including the garage, mechanical room and basement) is actually the average size for a home built in Boulder County. The home includes two offices—eliminating the need for either of the homeowners to commute—as well as a mother-in-law suite. And the amazing list of sustainable features—enough to put the home in standing for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold or Platinum status—are absolutely impressive. When finished (probably by Christmas), this house will include:
Geothermal heating and cooling
A PV array
Light monitor/natural daylighting/natural stack effect ventilation
Passive solar orientation and solar protection
LED lighting (which uses 80 percent less energy than conventional)
Poly-iso foam insulation
Radiant floor heating
Engineered lumber framing throughout, to minimize wood use
High-performance window glazing throughout
Xeric landscaping with drip irrigation
Grey water system for sinks and showers
High fly-ash content in the concrete
ICF foundations; earth-bermed design
We just put up video on our website in which Scott and his team talk about how carefully they deconstructed the existing house on a spectacular south Boulder site. Dismantling, rather than eviscerating, the original house meant that more than three-quarters of the material will be reused or recycled. It was great to see in person a process that we’d just written about in the May/June issue.
I’ll be popping down to the building site in south Boulder periodically to film the progress of this house as it gets built. When I visited yesterday, Scott was talking with his subcontractors about making this a zero-energy home. It will take something, but the team believes it's a solid possibility. I’m excited to track that as it happens.