Saint Claire Powerhouse

Saint Claire Powerhouse

This 1,900 square-foot 3 bedroom clerestory home, with an additional 672-square-foot attached garage located outside the SIPs shell, was built in 2016 in western Washington.

Because the master bedroom and bathroom were required to be located on the first floor, the clerestory design allowed us to locate two additional bedrooms and a bath on a minimal second floor, while leaving the glorious and spacious SIPs vaulted ceiling within the main living & kitchen spaces.

The play of light from the second-floor clerestory windows penetrates deeply into the main living spaces, eliminating glare at the large south windows and providing unusually even and dynamic day-lighting within the kitchen and living room. The occupants feel connected to the sweep of the sun, clouds, and weather patterns outside.

This is a near-perfect lot for a solar-panel net-zero home, identified by the clear solar exposure to the south, with no trees or buildings between the building and the sun.

 

SPECS/FEATURES

  • Department of Energy Net-Zero certified
  • Chilltrix CX34 air-to-water heat pump
  • 100% on-site storm water infiltration via 30-foot dispersion trench
  • 10.8 kW of solar panel installed
  • 6.5” R-29 SIPs walls
  • 10.25” R-49 SIPs roof
  • 4” R-20 foam under 4” concrete slab-on-grade for thermal mass
  • 5.5” foam (total) R-23.8 insulated concrete form (ICF) perimeter stem walls
  • Vinyltek Boreal series triple-pane windows (U values from 0.14 to 0.16)
  • 1:1.6 aspect ratio floor plan, with the long side facing south
  • Minimal east and west glazing

Worrell

Worrell

This 1,340 square-foot single-story, south-facing rural home was built for a professional couple in western Washington in 2018. It features an additional 576-square-foot attached garage to the north. The unheated garage, which sits outside the SIPs shell, is stick framed to reduce building and energy costs.

The home’s two offices are permitted as legal bedrooms, so it’s really a three-bedroom, two-bath net-zero rambler with a huge south-facing roof that has space for enough solar panels to power two electric cars and run the house.

Specifications

  • Department of Energy Net-Zero certified
  • Fujistu 9RL minisplit heat pump
  • 100% on-site storm water infiltration via 40-foot dispersion trench
  • 70 trees and 160 shrubs were planted that will grow a forest on site
  • 10.8 kW of solar panels installed
  • 6.5” R-29 SIPs walls
  • 10.25” R-49 SIPs roof
  • 4” R-20 foam under 4” concrete slab-on-grade for thermal mass
  • 5.5” foam (total) R-23.8 insulated concrete form perimeter stem walls
  • Vinylek Boreal series triple-pane windows (U values of 0.14 to 0.16)
  • 1:1.6 aspect ratio floor plan, with the long side facing south
  • Minimal east and west glazing

 

Columbia City

Columbia City

These two 2,250-square-foot, three-story family houses were built adjacent to each other, without garages, on a single lot in Columbia City, Seattle. The design preserved enough space for two spacious gardens.

This perfect urban lot has great southern exposure for passive and active solar gain. The small 25′ by 30′ footprints raised a surprising amount of internal space, but achieving net-zero performance, even with super-insulated SIPs panels, necessitated an enlarged south roof to house the required solar panels. We designed huge, cranked south roofs. This was a first for TC Legend, but they are now standard, architecturally a truly modem aesthetic response to the climate crisis.

The five-bedroom houses are planned to maximize common spaces and contain one un-programmed loft/rec-room space on each floor: space for a drum kit, a wine bar, a sewing room, or another TV room. Additionally the first floor has a big mud room to house bikes and camping gear and function as the storage space that a suburban house would normally have in the garage, which we eliminated in favor of gardens and uncovered off-street parking.

Specifications

  • Department of Energy Net-Zero certified
  • Chilltrix CX30 air-to-water heat pump
  • 100% storm-water infiltrated on site via two infiltration pits
  • 12.4 kW solar panels installed
  • 6.5” R-29 SIPs walls
  • 10.25” R-59 SIPs roof
  • 4” R-20 foam under 4” concrete slab-on-grade for thermal mass
  • 5.5” foam (total) R-23.8 insulated concrete forms (ICF) perimeter stem walls
  • Plygem triple-pane windows (U values between 0.21 and 0.24)

 

Larson

Larson

This 2,020 square-foot two-story, five-bedroom family house was built in rural King County. It has an additional 280 square-foot integrated single-car garage within the SIPs shell. The garage can be re-purposed into a flex space, such as a kids’ TV room, playroom, workshop, etc. The home was built in 2018 in western Washington.

The major challenge with this undeveloped site was to dig the potable water line 1,000 feet through a boulder field. The client miraculously located the well stub within the forest, and the TC Legend team dodged and weaved the waterline through.

Additionally, we carved the driveway 500’ through the second-growth forest, located the house for optimum solar exposure, and laid the power line in the middle of the driveway, with septic adjacent under what will likely become a forest lawn. A truly stunning site with stag deer, bear, cougars, and more.

The wrap-around porch with concrete walkway mediates between the inside and outside, with a front mudroom to contain kids’ messes and offer an airlock to prevent large temperature drops when the front door is opened in winter.

The house was prevented from becoming overly large and expensive by sizing the kids’ bedrooms at kids’ scale: on the small side of things. However, the vaulted SIPs ceiling at the second floor, which is a standard feature of SIPs construction, presents a very spacious overhead feel. Additionally, multiple windows in many bedrooms ensures that the kids rooms don’t feel boxy.

Specifications

  • U.S. Department of Energy Net-Zero certified
  • Fujistu 18RLXFG heat pump with multiple fan coil heads
  • 12.4 kW of solar panels installed
  • 6.5” R-29 SIPs walls
  • 10.25” R49 SIPs roof
  • 4” R-20 foam under 4” concrete slab-on-grade for thermal mass
  • 5.5” foam (total) R-23.8 insulated concrete forms perimeter stem walls
  • Euroline triple-pane windows (U values from 0.14 to 0.18)
  • 1:1.6 aspect ratio floor plan, with long side facing south
  • Minimal east and west glazing

 

Whatcom County Net Positive Home

Whatcom County Net Positive Home

This Built Green Five Star home in Whatcom County was selected as a Department of Energy 2019 Housing Innovation Award Winner!

The house is weighted south, toward the sun. With both asymmetrical roofs; longer to the south for solar build-out and a preponderance of south glazing for wintertime passive harvesting, the windows are appropriately shaded, with regionally appropriate eaves and porches, against summertime overheating.

The gross footprint of the house is rectangular, stretched with the long-axis running east-west to maximize space available for solar harvest on roofs and south wall, with much smaller east and west walls which overheat as they take the full force of the sun in summer. The slab-on-grade floor is finished to be left exposed and imparts a visceral, cooling, underfoot mass.

The slab also houses in-floor hydronic heating and radiates warm comfort during the long winter season, which, like all the seasons, can be felt and seen keenly in this house though the diversity of landscape views.

The home also features an open floor plan, with no wasted hallway space. The living area loft provides a sense of grandeur, but the modest-sized bedrooms and bathrooms require less energy and provide balanced efficiency.

SPECS/FEATURES

  • 2707 Square feet (conditioned)
  • 4 Bedrooms
  • 2.5 Baths
  • SIPs construction
  • 10.066-kW Solar
  • Triple-pane windows
  • Air-to-water heat pump
  • In-floor hydronic heating
  • Heat Recovery Ventilator
  • Electric car-charging
  • Low- or no-VOC products sourced throughout.
  • Wood posts, beams, counters, interior and exterior trim details milled on site from local timber

Photos by Scott Miller, Elevate Pro Photo