Traditional NZE Home in Connecticut

I’m told this is the first net-zero energy home in Connecticut. Yes, this LEED Platinum project in Killingworth produces more energy than it uses. It does that with a design to minimize energy consumption, solar panels, and a geothermal HVAC system – no energy for this home comes from fossil fuel-based sources. It has no boiler or furnace.

The NZE home was designed by Whitney Huber with energy engineer Consulting Engineering Services, Inc. (CES) for owners Mary O’Neill Keithan and George Keithan.

With 3,600 square feet, the design and construction had to done right. It was oriented to maximize solar gain, and precut framing was used to minimize waste. All joints, plates, and connections were sealed to control infiltration.

Walls were placed with advanced framing techniques, 10″ thick double offset studs, above grade spray foam (R42), and an exterior foam board cover to minimize thermal bridging. The roof has 14″ of spray foam and 2″ of XPS foam board (R62).

The energy-efficient windows are a Marvin tri-pane version with a 0.25 U-value. Above some of the windows, exterior sunshades help minimize harsh solar heat gain during the middle of the day. Inside, the home is lit with LEDs and a whole-house lighting control system. You won’t find incandescent lights here.

The main house has 10 solar hot water panels from Alternate Energy Technologies that cover about 20,000 kWh per year of electricity, according to CES. A 940 gallon, insulated water storage tank in the basement holds hot water that’s harvested throughout the day. The barn is covered with 65 photovoltaic panels from Schüco.

Excess electricity is fed into the grid and there’s even some additional capacity to power an electric car sometime in the future.

This home achieved a HERS rating of -7, which, you might notice, would never show up on the recent label introduced by KB Home. That’s how high performance this home is.

And for all of the above, according to CES’s case study, the project team and owners received several awards and recognition. Indeed, for feeding renewable energy into the grid and paying back some of what was incurred in construction, as William McDonough might say, the world is “better because you’re here.”

Credits: Marvin Windows and Doors; CES (solar barn).

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  • MrSteve007

    The architecture isn’t my cup of tea, but it’s nice to see a ‘traditional’ home that exceeds net-zero. It looks like a pretty nice place. Any idea on the total cost, or cost per sq/ft (including support outbuildings)?

  • Bicyclereporter

    where in connecticut? that would help.

    • Preston

      Killingworth, updated the article with that.

  • LenMinNJ

    This is a nice house, obviously built with a lot of thought. How far is it from meeting Passive House specs?

    Why didn’t the architects/builders build it to Passive House rather than LEED specs?

    There’s a fundamental tension between building a NZE and a Passive House. One replaces the energy that it uses. The other simply uses less. You can make a Passive House into an NZE much easier than one that’s not designed to Passive House specs.

    • Sampson S.

      Probably pretty far from passive. Too large, too much glazing, too many nooks and crannies to seal, etc. Passive homes are great in terms of efficiency but don’t require all the other aspects 3rd party green building programs do: Health, land development, materials etc… So thumbs up to Passive Houses, but the certification leaves out many other aspects of sustainability.

  • LenMinNJ

    And what did this end up costing per square foot (not including land)?

    • Sampson S.

      You could probably build 3 or 4 passive houses on that land for what this baby probably cost! That could be the most solar I’ve ever seen!

  • David Kingsbury

    Solar hot water panels do not generate electricity; they generate hot water. The photovoltaic panels generate the 20,000 kWh of electricity.

  • L and K

    What is the cost/benefit ratio? This is the one question often asked and never answered!

  • kim

    “With 3,600 square feet, the design and construction had to done right.” I think you mean “BE done right”….

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