Truro Net-Zero Energy Beach House

Truro Residence in Truro Massachusetts

Over a year ago, we took a moment to discuss the Truro Residence, which was designed by Zero Energy Design.  Back then, though, the home was confined to renderings, while now, it’s fully constructed and inhabited.  It is, as you will quickly note, a 6,200 square foot second home that acts a lot smaller that it actually is.  The client wanted something to accommodate a large and fluctuating number of family members for weekends and holidays.  As a result, ZED split the home into a “living bar” and “sleeping bar.”  It’s an interesting idea that creates impressive results.

Truro Residence

The living bar includes the living and dining areas, as well as a master bedroom, so during off-peak times, the client can shut down the sleeping bar and occupy only the living bar.  The living bar space has everything that the client needs and allows them to save energy by not using the sleeping bar portion of the Truro Residence.

Truro Solar

Located on the beach of Cape Cod, the home features a jaw-dropping, west-facing view of the water that, although gorgeous, isn’t particularly energy efficient.  Nevertheless, the narrow site and desire for an ocean view pretty much mandated large and expansive windows in that area of the home.  The rest of the envelope, therefore, compensates for what is lost in energy performance on westerly facade.  In addition, some of the following add to the home’s overall greenness and efficiency:

  • Built with double stud framing
  • Used a continuous layer of foam insulation
  • Installed a geothermal system and radiant heating system
  • Installed a heat recovery ventilator to circulate fresh air
  • Installed a large, rooftop solar array
  • Installed a battery back-up and energy management system
  • Used a lighting consultant to maximize light efficiency
  • Went fossil fuel free, except propane cooktop for homeowner that likes to cook

The combined effect of this ensures that the Truro Residence produces as much energy as it uses over the course of a year.   It’s a net-zero energy home.   Plus, the site is landscaped with indigenous plants that require no irrigation, and the design prioritized materials that maintain healthy indoor air quality.  One note: while you’re checking out the images below, try not to miss the perfunctory Eames Lounge and Ottoman.  Love those …




Trurostairs Trurobathroom


Truro Residence was built by Silvia & Silvia.

Photo credits: Eric Roth.

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  • Chris

    Why is a propane cooker considered more energy efficient than a natural gas one?

    • Preston

      I was thinking they calculated the emissions characteristics (or environmental performance) of propane to be cleaner than natural gas in this application, but misread that information. Let me clarify that above.

  • david

    this is a very interesting project and nice write-up with great photos. preston, do you have any figures on the cost per s.f. i’d guess $300-$400 per square foot or thereabouts.

    • Preston

      I don’t, although I’m sure the folks at ZED could give you an off-the-record estimate. I would imagine your cost estimates are in the right ballpark, though. ZED tends to work with clients that start at about $400k+ (sans land) for custom home designs.

      • Kevin

        I know I’m late to the post party on this, but I just saw it. Very nice looking house, and excellent energy engineering it seems, but if the cost guesses are right (and I think they probably are), they only got 2 out of 3 right in my mind.

  • Jim

    Wait a minute…”zero energy” 6200 square foot second home…gimme a break!

  • Kate Bender

    Hi! Love your home…would you happen to have metered data for a least the past 12 months available? I am doing a project for my Sustainable Design Masters at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh. I have been going to the cape every summer since I was little so this location holds a special place in my heart!


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