Near NZE Morning Sun Home in Oregon

This is Morning Sun, a near net-zero energy home completed at the end of December 2009 for owners Doug and Emily Boleyn.  The high-performance abode — designed by Matthew Daby of m.o. daby design llc and built by Cellar Ridge Custom Homes — received LEED Platinum certification, Oregon High Performance Home certification, and an Energy Performance Score of 31, making it one of the most decorated green projects in Happy Valley.

As with all high-performance homes, the devil is in the detail.  Morning Sun has R15 rigid foam insulation under the slab, R38 insulation above the crawl space, and R49 roof/ceiling insulation with 2″ sprayed on foam and a layer of batt insulation.  The walls are framed with 8″ staggered studs, which reduce thermal bridging, and blown-in fiberglass (R32).

The home’s passive solar design negotiates a sloping lot with 90% solar access and provides mountain views to the south and east.  It has three levels: the main level with a great room, master suite, and home office (1,788 square feet), the lower level with two bedrooms, a bathroom, storage, and recreation (879 square feet), and the loft with a sun room (169 square feet).

Windows take up about 785 square feet of the facade, of which, 43% of the windows, or 338 square-feet, face south.  This is a key aspect of the design made possible with the use of tuned windows from Serious Windows.

The south and east windows have a U-value of .22 and a solar heat gain coefficient of .54 to permit heat gain from the morning sun in the winter.  The north and west windows have a U-value of .14 – .18 and a SHGC of .22 to block solar heat gain.  Roof overhangs shade the high-performance windows to prevent heat gain during the summer.

The south-facing roof also supports a 4.725 Echo solar array with 21 SunPower 225-watt black modules and 7 PVT warm air collectors.  This versatile system generates electricity, water heating, and supplementary space heating, as well as a night flush of cool air during the summer.  Echo blends into the roof in a non-obtrusive and beautiful way, so it’s not the kind of thing to raise neighborhood aesthetic concerns.

Similar to a Japanese home with sliding shoji and room-specific heating and cooling, Morning Sun has two Fujitsu ductless mini-split heat pumps with four indoor units in different zones of the interior.  The owners use the zones to heat and cool all or part of the home as necessary, providing a form of flexibility and control that can lead to significant energy savings.

Almost all of the lights are CFLs, while the appliances are mostly Energy Star.  Three SolaTubes bring natural lighting into the home and a tankless Noritz system is used to heat water.  On the whole, the owners estimate that the utility bill with both electricity and natural gas will run about $263 per year.

Other green features of the Morning Sun home include a 1,500 rainwater collection tank, locally-harvested and milled framing lumber, reclaimed wood accents, 100% wool carpet, bamboo floors, rain screen siding application, fly ash mix of foundation, recycled-content gypsum board, recycled content metal roof shingles, Moen low-flow faucets and toilets, water-efficient landscaping, and plumbing for a future grey water system.

I first learned about Morning Sun through our new green home submission form.  If you have a great green home project or renovation, feel free to submit it to the editors for potential publication.

Credits: m.o. daby design llc.

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  • MrSteve007

    Hunh, in the title you say it’s ‘net-zero’ – then in the article say:

    “On the whole, the owners estimate that the utility bill with both electricity and natural gas will run about $263 per year.”

    Unless those are purely connection fees, that isn’t exactly what most folks consider to be net-zero.

    Also, you say “The passive solar home negotiates a sloping lot with 90% solar access and mountain views to the south and east.” Then go into detail, describing all the active HVAC and solar systems in the house.

    I think you need to rethink your definition for ‘net-zero’ & ‘passive solar home’ – this house looks great, but it doesn’t appear to qualify for either one of those titles.

    • Preston

      MrSteve007 – that’s a fair point on the net-zero status. I’ve clarified that with “near” language. The idea, as I understand it, is to continue to tweak things to get to net-zero energy, but I’ve reworked the title and some language to make it clear.

  • m o design

    Indeed the house is not net zero, but near net zero as mentioned in the first sentence of the article. The homeowner is a Solar Consultant and continues to collect data, tune and tweak the house to bring it closer to net zero.
    Also the energy efficiency of the house relies heavily on the passive solar design with glazing tuned and orientated to the south and rooms oriented accordingly. Just because the home contains HVAC and solar systems doesn’t mean it isn’t passive solar. There is, after all, artifical lighting and plug loads that need to be accounted for (in this case largerly with the solar array) and in the northern climates passive solar design often needs to be suplemented with mechanical HVAC, particularly in the cloudy winters of the Northwest US. In this case the zoned mini-split heat pumps and the PVT warm air collection system provide that.

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  • Ruth Trussell

    Impressive, but what did it cost? What is the square foot cost? I think it’s important to know by people looking to build a sustainable, energy-efficient home and for people like me who own 75 acres in NH that I have had subdivided into 12 lots and have prepared in a sustainable way (the storm water management plan, some tree thinning in a responsible way, no road into the property, –only driveways, mostly large lots, etc. I am looking for people who want to build sustainably, but I keep trying to find information on the web about home designs that are not only sustainable, but affordable, beautiful (even if only in a traditional New England sort of way), and that would attract NH people and others. I have also found it difficult to locate builders in the area who know enough about truly “green” building practices, and have sufficient experience with this, but also who can do so for an affordable price. These homes do not have to be large. We hope to be able to find architect(s) who can design 1800-2000± square foot home(s), with 2-3 bedrooms, 2+ baths, a two car garage, a cellar (New Englanders like cellars). It is extremely important to know how much such a home might actually cost to build, whether some features could be added later on, etc. The price for the smaller lots can be no more than around $300,000 including well, septic, garage… Thanks for any such information you can provide! More about my land in NH:

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