Timber Trails Trilogy Partners Net Zero EnergyNet zero energy homes are emerging as the new standard in current energy conservation trends. These homes are called net zero, to signify that the home may not take a net positive amount of energy from the grid, in a one year period. The home may actually use energy from the grid at times, but it must then also deliver energy back to the grid at other times.

The two primary design principles utilized in the net zero home are:

  1. Using energy efficient materials and strategies
  2. The use of renewable energy resources

Details affecting solar orientation, geothermal systems, and passive solar energy technology impact the overall form of the zero net energy home in the early design phase.

Technological considerations such as heat pump selection and location; floor, roof and wall insulation systems; and energy efficient appliances and lighting systems all contribute to the success of the net zero energy home.

Zero Energy Home GE Trilogy PartnersOver 100 net zero energy homes currently exist in the United States. Trilogy Partners completed the first net zero energy home in Breckenridge, Colorado in the Timber Trails neighborhood in 2010. More and more net zero energy homes will be constructed in coming years as the technology becomes more affordable, and as public awareness and education increases.

Photo sources: GE, Trilogy Partners

About 6 months ago we at Trilogy Partners completed an 8000 square foot zero net energy home, a first for Breckenridge, Colorado. Beginning with design and until now I’ve been conducting an internal debate as to whether it’s even possible for a home that large to be considered “green,” zero net energy or not. The somewhat difficult conclusion I’ve reached is based on the philosophy of “early adoption.” What I refer to is the process by which new technologies get adopted into the mainstream marketplace. Early adopters are usually passionate individuals who are less price sensitive and are willing to invest in emerging technologies or ideas while they are still more expensive than alternative solutions. In the case of this ski in and out home on the slopes of the Breckenridge ski resort our owner was willing to put aside cost issues to create a platform that would in essence serve as a model for the future. Although the trend is toward building smaller homes, indeed for the foreseeable future larger homes will be built by those that can afford them. This experiment with a larger “green” home will hopefully provide a blueprint for sustainability and accountability.

With the multitude of residential building technologies available, it only makes sense that the optimized home might take advantage of more than one. Though the majority of residences in this country are built using conventional framing technologies (dimensional 2×4 and 2×6 lumber for walls as an example) other structural technologies are available and have become increasingly popular. This article begins a series on how multiple building technologies combine seamlessly to form superior and environmentally sustainable structures.

The residence we affectionately call Caleb’s Journey combines conventional framing, structural insulating panels, and post and beam to create a fully modern and highly sustainable home with timeless design.

Structural Insulating Panels (SIPS) form the super insulated walls of the structure. They come precut from the SIP factory.

SIPs form the walls

First, we stand the SIP Panels.

Setting the SIP in place

And then we add the post and beam structural members.

Post and Beam roof trusses are milled and assembled.

The roof trusses are supported by log posts and by the SIP walls. The combination provides extraordinary structural integrity.

Creating a room that looks like this when finished. Reclaimed redwood covers the ceilings.

Interior walls are conventionally framed

Conventional framing is used for the interior walls and some roof transition areas. SIP panels are also used on the roof.

The end result is a home that combines the energy efficiency of SIPs, the structural integrity and beauty of Post and Beam, and the flexibility of conventional framing. For more photos of Caleb’s Journey, a true hybrid home, visit the photo gallery.

By Dina ElBoghdady Washington Post Staff Writer  Wednesday, February 23, 2011; 10:59 PM – Sales of previously owned homes increased nationwide in January, driven by all-cash purchases that suggest investors are chasing after foreclosures and other bargains in an ailing housing market, an industry group reported Wednesday.

Sales rose 2.7 percent from December, to a seasonally adjusted 5.36 million, the National Association of Realtors reported. The purchases – which include single-family homes, condominiums and townhouses – were up 5.3 percent from a year ago.

Although the figures reflect an improved economy, they also capture some of the underlying weaknesses in the housing market, namely the persistently large number of foreclosures that continued to drag down prices in January and attract investors.

Foreclosures and other distressed properties made up 37 percent of homes sold last month, the group reported. The cheap homes lured investors, who accounted for 23 percent of buyers, up from 20 percent the previous month and 17 percent a year ago.

As more investors entered the market, all-cash purchases surged to their highest level since the group started tracking the numbers in October 2008. The increase suggests that stringent lending rules are shutting out traditional buyers and empowering people with hefty sums of cash to close deals, said Lawrence Yun, the group’s chief economist.

But the January sales numbers may be deceptively high, said Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities.

After reports of widespread paperwork errors surfaced in October, many major lenders temporarily halted foreclosures. Some have since lifted the freeze. “Sales that would have normally taken place in October, November and December got pushed into January,” Vitner said.

None of this bodes well for home prices, because foreclosures tend to drag down values. The median price nationwide fell 3.7 percent, to $158,000, in January, the Realtor group said.

Many economists said that if the economy takes a turn for the worse or oil prices rise significantly because of political turmoil in the Middle East, consumer confidence could wane and home sales could plunge.

Some economists also cast doubt on the Realtor group’s numbers, suggesting that they were inflated because of its methodology. Most recently, mortgage research firm CoreLogic said the sales results could have been overstated by 15 to 20 percent in 2010.

Yun said his group will review data from the past few years.

He acknowledged a possible “upward drift” in the numbers. The sales data are collected from local multiple listing services. A Realtor, for instance, may advertise a home in two neighboring cities. When the home sells, the transaction may be counted twice, he said.

A decline in homes sold by owner may also distort the numbers, Yun said. Multiple listing services include mainly properties advertised by Realtors. As more sellers have turned to Realtors in recent years, the increase may register as an increase in sales when it is only a rise in transactions by Realtors, he said.

Yun cautioned that no housing data is flawless. The CoreLogic data, for instance, came from court records. As the recent foreclosure paperwork debacle shows, not all court records are accurate.

Structural Insulating Panels for Roofs and Walls

Introduction to SIPs

  • Buyer Benefits: Two years ago, Norm Abrams of This Old House stated on TV and wrote in articles that he wouldn’t build his own house any other way than with SIPs. See the reasons below
  • Builder Benefits: SIPs can be a little intimidating to builders who haven’t used them. But experienced SIP contractors sing their praises. Many have switched exclusively to panels,citing the following reasons for their decisions.

SIP Benefits for Buyers

  • Extremely strong structure. There is considerable evidence that homes with SIP wall and ceiling panels have survived natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, straight-line winds and earthquakes better than traditional stick-framed homes right next door.
  • Lower energy bills. Discounting the “human factor”-thermostat settings and so forth-a number of side-by-side tests show that between 15% and 40% less energy should be needed to heat and cool a home with SIP wall and ceiling panels. In tests by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, SIP walls outperform fiberglass walls by over 50%.
  • Improved comfort. Thanks to extra R-values and tight construction, the wall and ceiling surfaces in a SIP home will stay warmer than in stick-framed homes. The warmer those surfaces are, the more comfortable the home is.
  • “Freeze proof.” What happens if the power goes down? During the late 1990s, several New England SIP homes survived over a week without power or a wood stove and never came close to freezing.
  • Indoor Air Quality. While there is no guarantee here, most homes built with SIPs are tight enough that builders can’t ignore upgrading mechanical ventilation compared to that found in a standard home. In many studies in North American housing, the best indoor air quality is found in homes that are tight and equipped with upgraded mechanical ventilation.
  • Green building product. On a life-cycle basis, a more energy-efficient house built with SIPs will be less damaging to the environment, in terms of overall resource consumption. Much less dimensional lumber is used in a SIP home than in a traditional framed structure.
  • Interactive systems benefits: For example, a more energy-efficient home may cost slightly more to build but in turn can be heated and cooled with smaller equipment that costs less to install.

SIP Benefits for Builders

  • Speed of construction. You can order the panels with all pre-cutting performed in a factory. They show up on the jobsite all pre-numbered, ready for assembly corresponding to numbers laid out on a set of shop drawings. On most jobs you should be out of the weather and dried in sooner. Time is money.
  • Fewer framers. A crew can consist of one lead framer assisted by minimally skilled helpers. Whenever a job involves craning panels up to frame a roof, it helps to have two people familiar with panels: one on the roof and one on the ground.
  • Shell installation option. If you’re having a tough time locating skilled carpenters, a growing number of manufacturers have regular crews who will install a shell on your foundation for you to finish.
  • Rigid frame. It’s easy bracing SIP walls. In fact, once you have two corner panels up, you can lean a ladder against the panels when needed.
  • Less jobsite waste. If you’ve ordered a set of panels with all rough openings for windows and doors pre-cut at the factory, the only true waste you’ll have is taking a few cases of empty tubes of adhesive caulk containers to the dump. And the factory can efficiently collect and recycle their cut-outs much more effectively than you can at the job site.
  • Less theft. While 2x4s and 2x6s are prone to “walking off” unsecured job sites, panels are too specific to the site’s building system to be worth hauling off somewhere else.
  • Cost competitive. While most builders say they pay a little more for SIPs than for the comparable framing and insulation package in a stick-built home, as a group they believe the benefits are worth the costs. The amount extra they pay varies; while a few say it costs them an extra $1 per square foot of finished floor area, the amount may be higher when roof panels are used. However, when roof panels enclose extra living space in a loft, the price per square foot is surprisingly competitive. If at the design stage you optimize a structure to use panels, the most experienced SIP builders then say a house framed with SIPs should cost about the same as a house framed with comparably sized dimensional lumber, and maybe even a little less.
  • Easier to hang drywall. There is solid backing for all drywall against exterior walls, which means there is less cutting, faster attachment and less waste material.
  • Fewer framing callbacks. Wall panels go in plumb, square and straight. Once in place, a SIP won’t warp, twist or check.
  • Increased referrals. A fair number of small builders report their marketing efforts have decreased ever since they started using SIP building systems.

Reprinted from http://www.greenbuildingtalk.com/buildcentral/sip/benefits.aspx

Timber Frame Construction, compared to stick built or conventional framing, is a very sustainable building technology. Unlike stick building, the materials used in a timber frame will inevitably be reclaimed and recycled. In fact, many timber frames are made from reclaimed and recycled frames from barns, bridges, warehouses, and factory buildings. An argument is sometimes made that Timber Frames use old growth lumber. In fact, some do. But Timber Frame homes typically last much longer than conventionally framed homes. Timber Frames in Europe and Asia are more than 1000 years old. One way to preserve old growth forests is to build homes that last a lot longer so fewer trees will be cut for construction purposes. One other fact about Timber Frames is that they are frequently build from fast growing farm raised southern yellow pine which is kiln dried. Farm raised Southern Yellow pine is a renewable resource.

Further supporting Timber Frame as a sustainable building method is that Timber Frame combined with SIP panels provides a highly insulated, tight structure that uses much less energy for heating and cooling than conventionally framed structures.

A Timber Frame home, though generally more expensive to build than a conventionally framed home, also brings with it the beauty of posts and beams, open floor plans and soaring ceilings. So Timber Frame construction is not only good for the planet, but beautiful as well.

Boiler Room with Geothermal Heat Exchange System

From earlier writings we described the environmental commitment of Breckenridge homeowner Kyle M. to build an 8,000 sq. ft. luxury zero energy home. We continue today with the inside story of this net zero home. This writing focuses on the renewable energy systems chosen including solar electric and geo-exchange, along with an integrated lighting and electronics program that dually functions as an energy management system. Once Ambient Energy produced the energy modeling for the 8,000 sq. ft. home, the engineering and building team went to work to choose materials that would conserve as much energy as possible. Step one: Design and build a tight well-insulated energy-efficient home. Step two: Incorporate renewable energy and smart-home control systems geared to energy conservation.

The environmental heating and cooling solutions for the Breckenridge Timber Trail home demonstrate a high degree of integration among experienced professionals not unlike the workings of a well trained sports team. This team’s goal: design and install an efficient geo exchange heating ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system to provide 100 percent of the home’s space heating needs with a natural gas boiler backing up system. First up to bat was Barry Engleman of George T. Sanders Companyof Silverthorne. George T. Sanders did the heat calculations for the home to determine how much radiant floor tubing was needed to keep the house warming properly even down to 20 degrees below zero. Engleman designed the layout and Tekmar control systems that control the radiant floor hydronic system. Next to bat was Eric Atcheson of E.W.A. Mechanical Inc. based in Silverthorne. E.W.A worked closely with Engleman, and was responsible for the home’s plumbing, heating, and automated Tekmar control systems. Following Engleman’s layout and his own expertise, Atcheson installed the plumbing system for domestic hot water production, radiant floor heat tubes to supply heating for the home, and the optional snowmelt system for the driveway. The house received two high efficiency boilers that integrate with the ground source heat pumps and ensure the home’s comfort on the coldest of Breckenridge nights. Our third and fourth batters were Jim Dexter from Summit Professionals of Silverthorne and Bob Major of Major Heating and Cooling in Wheat Ridge. The two companies managed the installation and integration of the ground source geo exchange heating and cooling system, heat pumps, air handling and humidification. Summit Professionals designed systems and duct work to provide a fresh supply of air to the home and comfortable environment. Dexter installed an integrated air handling, humidification and Energy Recovery Ventilator which gives the homeowner complete control over the indoor environment. The Breckenridge home receives 100 percent of its space heating and summer cooling from a geothermal heat pump system. Geo exchange uses the constant 50 to 55 degree temperature of the earth to warm the home when it is cold outside and to cool the home on hot days. Before excavation of the home, the geo exchange wells were drilled. Major Heating and Geothermal in conjunction with Can-America Drilling Inc., installs a closed loop system consisting of 19 boreholes, each 300 ft deep, around the foundation and under the driveway.

Solar PV System

Photovoltaic Panels

SolSource, Inc., a solar engineering and installation firm based in Denver, was engaged to design and install the solar photovoltaic system, through their partnership with Breckenridge-based Colorado Building Company.

The Making of Breckenridge’s First Custom Net Zero Home

Dave Lyskawa, Sol-Source VP of Residential Sales, met the homeowner’s goal of designing a solar electric system that provides 100 percent of the home’s electrical needs. For phase one, SolSource installed a 9.89 kW solar PV array. The solar energy installation consists of 43 SolarWorld 230-watt panels with black frames. SolarWorld modules are 100 percent manufactured in the U.S. The solar panels are connected to Enphase micro inverters and an Enphase energy management unit which provides 24/7 system monitoring. Enphase increased the energy production of the solar array by maximizing the energy generated by each individual solar panel. SolSource also selected Enphase to allow for system expandability and is pre-wiring the home for an additional 7 kW system in phase two. The energy produced by the 9.89 kW array prevents an estimated 29,907 pounds of C02 from entering the atmosphere every year.

Lighting and Energy Management Systems

A final component to creating Breckenridge’s first custom net zero home was integrated lighting, energy management, and whole house automation system. Players were Chad Ballard of Paradigm Systems, Inc. based in Denver using the Vantage Control system and Daniel Stern with Electronics by Design in Broomfield. All lighting fixtures installed were evaluated for functionality and energy efficiency. “We focus on correct color, intensity, dimming and usage of the lights required in a luxury residence, while ensuring that the house is performing at the minimum energy consumption,” said Ballard. The Vantage system was chosen for its ability to provide automated and remote control of the home’s lights, HVAC, shades, fans, audio/ video and home theater distribution systems, security through sensors, timers, keypads and energy consumption meters. Lights in high use rooms were programmed with occupancy sensors that turn on when some one enters the room at a set intensity and turn off when motion is no longer detected after a set time interval. This simple house-wide lighting/motion sensor system enables the homeowner to masterfully manage the home’s electricity usage and significantly conserve energy. This Breckenridge residence is likely the “smartest home” in town. If homeowner Kyle wants to, he can press a button on his cell phone as he is driving up to his mountain chateau and engage a “Welcome” mode. With one button the lights turn on, the blinds go up, the garage door opens, and music begins to play.

Michael Rath, a Trilogy Partner, has co-founded The Haiti Orphan Rescue Program (HORP) to build permanent adequate shelter for Haitian orphaned and abandoned children.

Mike M January 2010

Joined by builders Mike Mahon and Andrea DeLuca of sustainable building company Adaptive Building Solutions in Ann Arbor, Michigan, HORP will raise funds and assist Haitian labor to construct multiple orphanage projects over the coming years. Haiti’s “children without family” receive no aid from their government, and Mike M and his family have years of experience in Haiti helping these most vulnerable Haitians and their caregivers with support and medical aid. The earthquake of January 12, 2010 left more than 500,000 children without family or government support, spurring the two Mikes and Andrea to establish HORP as a non-profit 501(c) charitable organization. The next project commences mid April when members of HORP will travel to Haiti to refurbish a damaged orphanage housing 20 children more than half with disabilities. Visit HORP to learn more about this worthy cause and to contribute through programs like the “Adopt an Orphanage” and “HORP Ambassadors.”


The first match of the World Cup will be played tomorrow as the home team of South Africa competes against Mexico.  Although soccer (football) isn’t as big in the United States as it is for the rest of the world, there is still much excitement and anticipation whenever the World Cup is played.

In gearing up for the big match that is taking place Saturday when our team, USA, takes on England we thought we’d share something we came across on Inhabitots.com.

“Just in time for the World Cup tournament, a group of enterprising women entrepreneurs has unveiled a soccer ball that captures and stores energy generated by play. Called the sOccket (a mashup of “soccer” and “socket”), the ingenious little ball was created by Harvard alums Jessica Lin, Jessica Matthews, Julia Silverman, and Hemali Thakkar with developing nations in mind….” click here to read the article in its entirety.

We thought we’d share some beautifully designed American Stables that we came across in the June issue of Architectural Digest for those of you who witnessed Drosselmeyer 13-1 upset in the 142nd Belmont Stakes over the weekend.

Below are a few of our favorites.

This ranch in Montana was made out of recycled pine logs and native fieldstone.

This above stable in East Hampton, New York belongs to Steven Spielberg and his wife, Kate Capshaw.  The weathervane on top of the stable is in the form of a dinosaur reminiscent of Spielberg’s film Jurassic Park.

According to Architectural Digest this stable is one of “Kentucky’s showplace for racing and breeding thoroughbreds. Located in Lexington, the property has 847 acres of lavish pastureland and more than 40 buildings, including a 14-room residence, 15 white barns with red-trimmed cupolas, a sophisticated veterinary clinic, an equine swimming pool and underwater treadmill, two racetracks, a gazebo and a modest log cabin.”

AD: “Frank Lloyd Wright couldn’t design an ordinary-looking building,” says producer Joel Silver, who restored the little-known Auldbrass, Wright’s 1939 plantation in Yemassee, South Carolina. A crushed-brick walkway leads to the barn. “By folding the roof down and the corners of the doors back, Wright created something origami-like,” Silver notes.

965 N Ten Mile Dr. , Unit A1 Frisco, CO 80443
Phone: 970-453-2230

Email: information at trilogybuilds dot com
Facebook: TrilogyPartners
Twitter: @trilogybuilds
Instagram: trilogybuilds
Youtube: The Trilogy Partners Channel
Houzz: trilogy-partners