Before proceeding too far in the design development, a Design Charrette meeting was held, a first step in the LEED for Homes certification process. The meeting included Patrick and Rosalie McVay (owners), Bill Styczynski (architect), Brandon Weiss (builder), Jason LaFleur (LEED provider) and others to discuss the various strategies as it pertains to the LEED certification process. The home is currently on track to obtain LEED Platinum certification. The McVay’s have spent a long time thinking about what they wanted their home to be before starting this process, with an emphasis on an affordable high performance green home with minimal energy usage, which is then offset by renewable energy (net- zero energy home). Based on the Charrette, the design process is well underway.
An important key to the success is this project is to evaluate the various energy conservation strategies, including alternate wall and roof systems, mechanical systems, passive solar strategies and various renewable energy sources. The home will be approximately 2,400 square foot home with 3 bedrooms, located in Wheaton, Illinois. One of the key design elements of the plan is a room called an “Orangery” that will be used for passive solar heating of the home during the colder months of the year. The Orangery will be located on the long face of the home that faces due south. Shading will be provided through overhangs to allow for direct sunlight to enter the home during the colder months while blocking direct sunlight in the warmer months. The concrete floor will act as a thermal mass that will absorb heat from the direct sunlight throughout the day, and then passively heat the home when that heat is released over time. The Orangery will also have an operable sliding glass wall that will allow the McVay’s to control how and when the heat absorbed in the Orangery is released into the rest of the home.
The design has taken begun to take shape around those core concepts, and in our particular climate we need to consider both passive heating and cooling in order to optimize energy consumption. This has led to much conversation regarding window placement and shading, the types of glazing, insulation levels that balance energy efficiency and cost, among others. Our Midwest climate reaches extremes for heating and cooling throughout the year, so it is important to determine how to best utilize solar resources, all in an attempt of reaching the ultimate goal of creating a net-zero energy home.
The services of an energy modeler have been retained to study the energy use of the various concepts. The preliminary results look good, with some additional tweaking, our next posting will summarize our decisions for the building shell.