Trends in home design are moving away from specific rooms and space to materials and energy efficiency. This delightful (and beneficial) competition between neighbors, communities, and states to become more energy conscious and less dependent on fossil fuels has resulted in thousands of people reducing their carbon footprint.
Here are some of the current trends in home design:
As seen in a recent online issue of The New York Times, soon you will be able to monitor the energy efficiency of your home on your cell phone, wherever you are.
The soon-to-be-released tool, called TREE (Tendril Residential Energy Ecosystem), will allow homeowners to turn appliances, heating, and cooling systems on and off from work, the theatre, or the kids’ soccer practice. Similar to a video game, TREE will integrate with a collection of tools to track energy consumption and broadcast the results to local and distant displays. If your electricity consumption rises above certain levels, a display will start flashing a different color, allowing you to decide which systems you can shut off.
TREE will compare your home’s energy consumption with similar sized homes in your neighborhood, make suggestions on how to reduce your energy, and predict how much lowering the thermostat will lower your bill. How's that for monitoring your carbon footprint?
TREE is expected to be released late this year. To read the full article, click here.
The new energy efficient home will be just shy of 2500 square feet, with 1530 square feet on the first floor and 950 square feet on the second floor. With three bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths, the home will have plenty of room for visiting children and grandchildren. The site plan shows the lakefront and proposed location of the home.
One of our clients' requirements was to have a first floor Master Bedroom with view of the lake. Planning to do a lot of entertaining, they also desired a large screened porch for enjoying evenings on the lake with protection from insects. Adding a one-car garage at an angle to the house allows for an extended dining area and nicely houses a walk-in pantry and mudroom / laundry. We're talking about a solar hot water system and possible solar photovoltaic system. All materials will be energy efficient and low maintenance - a must for a vacation / retirement home.
The entrance to the home is designed to have an unobstructed, straight view to the lake, which makes the open floor plan appear even larger than it is, and brings the outdoors into the home. The second floor includes a large home office with a walk-out balcony. Overnight guests have plenty of room with two bedrooms and a large bathroom. A generous storage area next to the stairs will come in handy to store seasonal items.
See more of my current work, including some timber frame homes.
1) Solar energy is clean and sustainable, which helps to protect the environment and does not contribute to global warming, acid rain, or smog2) Solar energy reduces our dependency on power companies
3) Systems can be configured to meet virtually any power demand load
4) Advancements in solar energy systems have made them extremely cost effective. While costs for natural gas and petroleum continue to rise, solar energy technology continues to fall in price.
5) Most solar energy systems do not require any maintenance during their lifespan, and many carry warranties which cover their life spans of twenty to thirty years.
Still unsure? Check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s website on “Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy”. They have information, charts, and calculations to help you make the right decision.http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/
Their project goals were:
- Small footprint to minimize carbon footprint
- Energy efficiency in all four New England seasons
- Environmentally-conscious to minimize site impact
- Low maintenance and durability, easy to open and close up
- Security in rural setting
- Take advantage of lake views
- Possible addition in future
Translating their goals into an energy efficient, small home design was not a problem, as Pat and Andy had collected a three-ring binder full of notes, pictures, and ideas. The home design, at 1100 square feet, is both energy efficient and practical.
The plan is a passive solar design, with the first floor receiving the low winter sun in early morning and late evening under the varied depth of the porch roof. The second floor, meanwhile, has a moderate roof overhang and will always provide abundant light
Natural cross ventilation will come from the east, south, and west elevations. A cupola provides release for summer heat, and also adds to the architectural aesthetics.
The north side of the building includes a first floor laundry with a storage bench under the window. This is the most buildable side of the design, and will be the location of a future addition to the home.
A central stairway fits nicely in the small home design, eliminating the need for hallways and keeping the footprint to a minimum. Its openness provides natural light between floors and increases ventilation.