Green, Green Aspects of a Custom Home
Alan Moffat had a lofty goal: to create a truly green, dream home – one characterized not only by its beauty and comfort, but by its ability to give back to the environment.
A chartered engineer and chartered environmentalist, Alan started researching his ideal home in 2004 when he and his wife, Andrea, decided they would build a new home rather than renovate their twelfth Century residence in the Cotswolds. Alan says, “During that time I was looking at what I wanted in the house – double glazing, real strong insulation, and solar electricity. I did all my research up front so when it got to the design stage, I really knew what I wanted in order to have an environmentally sound home.”
The Moffat’s search for a reasonably priced tract of land led them over 4,700 miles to Colorado. They selected a scenic, 35-acre parcel as their building site, where they will reside once their home is complete. Last year, Alan worked on the concept and design of his home with Seattle-based Linwood Sales and Design Consultant Stan Powers. Alan liked the environmentally-sound materials offered in a Linwood home package, and Linwood’s custom design flexibility. Stan and Alan worked collaboratively, examining many options and progressing with plans over the Internet.
“The Moffat’s home was designed to be energy efficient with regards to the long overhangs and porch covers to help keep the home cool and the sun off windows,” Stan says. “It is also extremely energy efficient with respect to heating, cooling, and plumbing.”
Solar PV Tiles
The three-story 4,500 sq. ft. Delilah Peak is a leading example of a state-of-the-art environmentally-sound home. Instead of solar panels, the home uses PV (photo-voltaic) tiles to convert solar radiation from the sun into electricity. These grey solar tiles blend easily with the roofing shingles and are far more discrete than solar roof panels.
Grid-Tied and Liking It
The Moffat’s are tied to the grid or “grid-tied” so any unused solar electricity generated by their PV system can be fed back onto the grid for shared use by the local utilities co-operative. “When I’m not drawing, I can feed back onto the grid and my meter goes backwards,” says Alan. “At the end of the year there is a settle up. I’m giving them green electricity that they can sell on. The difference between what we use and what we generate is refunded.”
The Moffat’s home is heated and cooled using a vertical ground source heat pump (GSHP) or geothermal pump. This central heating and cooling system pumps heat from the ground using the earth as a heat source in the colder months. This design takes advantage of the moderate temperatures in the ground to boost efficiency and greatly reduces the operational costs of heating and cooling a home. The setup costs are higher than for conventional systems, but the difference is usually returned in energy savings in three to 10 years.
Rather than having to use a separate air conditioning system, the Moffat’s vertical ground source heat pump takes the warm air from the house, pushes it over the heat exchanger, and pumps the cold air back in the house in cooling mode. “It is so efficient it can make the temperature drop 12 degrees in one hour,” says Alan who had ducting installed to pump the air in via cold air vents.”
Radiant Floor Heating and More
Delilah Peak uses the geothermal system to heat water for the in-floor radiant heating. This method has to be well researched and done expertly says Alan, to ensure that the hot water used for the heating system is fully protected from over heating and over pressure. Ground source heat pumps are among the most energy efficient technologies for providing water heating. Using the geothermal system, the cost of heating the 12 individually controlled zones in their home is dramatically less than the cost of heating hot water using a conventional system.
For those nights that there is a chill in the air, the Moffats installed a log stove, which will operate using the wood harvested from their property during the build.
Other Environmental Aspects
The only disappointment for Alan was that of having to eliminate his plan for greywater recycling, whereby wastewater from showers and bathtubs can be processed for reuse. Greywater recycling had not been approved in their home’s jurisdiction at the time of their build. However, such a system can provide an estimated 30% reduction in water use for the average household. The danger of biological contamination is avoided by using a cleaning tank to eliminate floating and sinking items, and an intelligent control mechanism is used to flush the collected water if it has been stored long enough to be hazardous.
In the Moffat’s new home, everything is insulated to the highest environmental standards. “We have 1,000 sq. ft. of windows so this is key,” Alan adds.
An expert in the field of environmental packaging, Alan has indeed created a very unique package of his own. The essence of Delilah Peak is wrapped in a Linwood structural package made from 75% renewable resources, and adorned with the greenest of bows.
View the slideshow of this home and its green features.