At bldg.collective, sustainable architecture isn’t a trend, it’s fundamental to good design and core to our beliefs. But what does ‘sustainable’ mean to us? Is it using reclaimed or recycled materials? Cutting energy usage? Sourcing materials and contractors locally? All of the above?
There isn’t a textbook formula for designing and crafting a sustainable home. We’re lucky to be based in a city that’s leading-edge in sustainable design, and enforces strict codes that require new buildings and renovated homes to be as energy-efficient as possible. (Boulder County has even proposed a goal to make all new residential construction Net Zero by 2022, meaning each new build would produce as much energy as it uses.) So our baseline residence is already extremely efficient and eco-conscious.
But the options for how we fulfill or exceed those code requirements are complex and there are multiple options and ways to achieve “sustainability.”
When a client comes to us in search of a sustainable home, our first step is figuring out what that means to them specifically, and how we can achieve their goals while staying on budget. Some energy-saving options include:
Since we live among such picturesque landscapes, we have a lot of clients who want floor-to-ceiling windows to to maximize views and natural light. Opting for a high-performance brand such as Alpen helps reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer.
Photovoltaic Technology (Solar Electric)
One of the better-known energy-saving options, this technology converts sunlight into electricity used to light and heat a home. Products such as Tesla’s Powerwall are providing battery storage solutions for energy produced on site but is needed at a future time. But this energy producing technology is no longer confined to the form of solar panels that attach to a roof anymore—recent advancements include incorporating photovoltaic technology into concrete, glass and shingles. Although these technologies are not currently available in the mass market, we are excited about the possibilities that these products will provide in the near future.
Geothermal Mechanical Systems
This in-ground system essentially uses the consistent, internal temperature of the earth to heat and cool a home. These systems are a lot more expensive than an average furnace or boiler, but the payoffs are powerful.
There are varying degrees of insulation options. For those who want to go above and beyond, we can implement exterior insulation—an extra layer of rigid foam that lives beneath the siding materials, creating an airtight seal that wraps the whole home and greatly reduces thermal conductivity through the wood studs in a typical framed wall assembly.
A home’s energy output is a constant balancing act during the building process—as a design changes and shifts, so does its energy efficiency. We’re one of the few firms with an in-house certified RESNET Home Energy Rater—a title earned by our founding principal Chris Gray that means he can measure energy performance throughout every phase of the design.
Armed with these cutting-edge tools and years of experience and knowledge, we have created highly energy-efficient homes. When it comes to renovating existing homes—such as the Utica Residence, an extensive remodel with exterior installation, high-performance windows and rainscreens to lock out moisture—we typically improve the energy efficiency by 300-400 percent. We also recently completed a new build for a net zero home on 63rd Street, with solar energy capabilities and geothermal heating and cooling.
Thinking about going green? Contact us to see what options fit your family’s needs.