Trilogy Partners is committed to sustainable and energy efficient custom home design, incorporating passive solar technologies, renewable energy resources and solar orientation in the design of custom Colorado mountain homes. Site selection and building placement is critical to the successful energy efficient passive solar home.

When a family is planning to build a new custom home, it is advantageous to include the custom home designer veTrilogyPartnersPassiveSolarDesignry early in the site selection and home design phase in order to plan ahead for passive solar technology. Passive solar is based on the orientation of the building relative to the sun at different seasons of the year.

A few of the more common solar energy design tools are the use of natural daylighting to light interior spaces, cool air flow through the house at night to modify temperatures, thermal heat storage in masonry walls, thermal insulation, and proper solar orientation for north and south facing facades.

One of the most beneficial and aesthetically pleasing solar technology design strategies is to use large south facing windows for custom homes in seasonally cold climates. An example of this form of passive solar design is utilized by Trilogy Partners in the custom Colorado mountain home, shown to the right. For additional information about passive solar design in custom Colorado mountain homes, contact Trilogy Partners by calling 970.453.2230 or visiting the Trilogy Partners Website. Trilogy Partners is located in Breckenridge, Colorado.

According to a recent article on Inhabitat, the Attorney General of New York, Eric Schneiderman, is suing the federal government for failure to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The lawsuit, filed in Brooklyn, states that the Delaware River Basin Commission, with full approval by federal agencies, proposed regulations on fracking without conducting a full review on the possible effects on the environment.

Fracking, the common term for high-volume hydraulic fracturing, uses enormous quantities of water mixed with chemicals and sand to break through the layer of shale and access natural gas deposits, and as other incidents in the past have shown, can endanger the local drinking water supply. (There are a couple of great documentaries on this subject, like 2009’s Split Estate and 2010’s Gasland.) The drinking water supply at stake in this lawsuit could affect up to 15 million people in the New York and Philadelphia areas.

Head over to Inhabitat (linked above) to read more about this important case, and visit the Denver Post to read about the impact of fracking here in Colorado.

photo via Split Estate

By Kelly Minner — Filed under: Featured ,News – Where does your State rank among the ’s Top 10? Comparing -certified commercial and institutional green buildings per capita within the United States the District of Columbia turned in the highest per capita/per person ratio of 25.15 square feet.   Commercial office type and for-profit organization owner type where the most common, as was Chicago and Washington DC for the most represented cities on the list.

Following are the top ten  states per capita:

1. Nevada: 10.92 sf
2. New Mexico: 6.35 sf
3. New Hampshire: 4.49 sf
4. Oregon: 4.07 sf
5. South Carolina: 3.19 sf
6. Washington: 3.16 sf
7. Illinois: 3.09 sf
8. Arkansas: 2.9 sf
9. Colorado: 2.85 sf
10. Minnesota: 2.77 sf

“Using per capita, versus the more traditional numbers of projects, or pure square footage, is a reminder to all of us that the people who live and work, learn and play in buildings should be what we care about most. 2010 was a difficult year for most of the building industry, but in many areas, the hunger for sustainable development kept the markets moving,” shared Scot Horst,  SVP of .

For the full report click here.

Wendy Koch, USA TODAY


Just how tough is the passive house standard that’s starting to catch on in the United States? I put my own new green house to the test.

My house, nearing completion in Falls Church, Va., wasn’t designed to meet the rigorous passive standard, which focuses solely on energy efficiency, but rather the top rating of a more general program by the U.S. Green Building Council. Yet it has many of the same features of certified passive homes, so I figured: why not try?

After all, my project has high-performance windows by Serious Mate rials, a well-insulated and sealed exterior (we used structural in sulated panels or SIPS) and ultra-efficient appliances and lighting (only LEDs and compact fluorescent lamps.) Really, how hard could it be?

John Semmelhack, a passive house expert in Charlottesville, Va., who runs the Think Little consul ting firm and advised on how to make a Waldorf school meet the passive standard, agreed to do a preliminary analysis of my project for this story. I anxiously awaited his results.

He let me down gently. “While the house is going to be a very energy efficient house, it’s not going to meet the Passive House standard,” he wrote in an e-mail that reported his findings. He explained them in a phone interview.

“The biggest problem by far is your windows,” he said. My house simply has too many of them, and the large south-facing windows don’t capture enough solar energy because of their glazing and less-than-optimal siting. (To get the perfect southern angle, the house would have needed to sit diagnally on the lot, which would look odd.)

Windows absorb more solar power if the glass has a high “solar heat gain coefficient” or SHGC. But since we have a shady lot and the U.S. government’s Energy Star program doesn’t recommend high SHGC windows for the Mid-Atlantic region, we didn’t request such glazing.

The second biggest issue, Semmelhack said, is the home’s geometry. It’s not a simple cube. My L-shaped home opens to a south-facing courtyard, so it’s more spread out than a colonial or a foursquare, which is an easier shape to make energy efficient. Its top floor also overhangs the main level in both the front and back, which looks cool but creates potential thermal breaks.

Semmelhack said the home’s foundation, walls and windows could also have benefited from a bit more insulation, but he said we didn’t miss the mark by much.

He said the Mid-Atlantic is a tricky place to do a passive home, because “we get a little bit of Maine and a little bit of Florida.” Homes certified by the Passive House Institute US, a private Illinois-based group, need to have annual heating or cooling loads be low 4,750 British thermal units per square foot of interior finished space, which is about 10 times less than many regular new homes.

Semmelhack figured my heating load was about twice the passive standard while my cooling load was about 30% higher. My home’s overall energy use was about 20% higher than the standard’s maximum of 38,000 Btu per square foot of interior finished space per year. He said we could opt for a slightly more efficient Rinnai tank less water heater, but the conventional Carrier Infinity heating and cooling system we selected is just fine. “It’s about as good as you can get,” he said, noting its 95% efficiency rating.

The passive standard also requires homes be virtually air tight, limiting the air changes per hour (at 50 pascals) to 0.60, which is a fraction of what the Energy Star program al lows.

I don’t know yet how well my house will fare on this measure, because we haven’t done our final blower door test. But my builder, Arjay West of West Properties, did preliminary checks before enclosing the walls in drywall and tried to address any thermal breaks. Since my house isn’t a simple cube, though, sealing it is more of a challenge. We’ll keep you posted on our progress.

Source: USA Today

Would you like to receive the latest updates and information from the Trilogy Partners blog in your e-mail inbox? If so, subscribe to our blog today and you’ll receive our blog posts right in your inbox. Our posts cover in-depth topics related to sustainable homebuilding, architectural and interior design trends and ideas, as well as the latest news and information from the construction and real estate industries and our work with the Haiti Orphan Rescue Program.

To subscribe, simply enter your e-mail address in the subscription box located on to the right of this post, and then keep an eye out for a subscription confirmation e-mail. The subscription confirmation e-mail will have instructions included to activate your subscription, so be sure to follow those directions. Once your subscription is confirmed and activated, you’ll begin to receive our updates in an e-mail from Google’s Feedburner each time we post new information on the blog. You can read the post in your inbox, or visit our site directly.

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Subscribing to the Trilogy Partners blog is a great way to keep in touch with all that’s going on with us! We hope you’ll connect with us through our blog!

Posted By Mike Chino On February 11, 2011 – The idea of energy-efficient lighting appeals to most homeowners, but many people don’t have the time to research and understand all the complexity out there when it comes to finding the most energy-efficient and environmentally responsible lighting systems. That’s why Inhabitat is here to help in our Green Lighting 101 editorial series (which is generously sponsored by Philips). So far in our Green Lighting 101 series we’ve showcased the state-of-the-art in energy-efficient lighting tech and shared 6 green lighting tips to help cut down your energy bill – but what about the actual lamps fixtures that bring green energy technology to light? There’s a million ways to make a lamp – but all lamps are not suited to the same purposes, nor are they all made from eco-friendly materials or able to illuminate with energy-efficient light. With this in mind, we’ve rounded up the 15 most innovative, interesting eco-friendly lamps that bathe your home in low-energy light – read on for our top picks to suit any lighting situation!green lamps, energy efficient lighting, sustainable design, green design, energy-efficient light bulbs, philips, interior lighting, low-energy lighting, green lighting 101

Different types of lighting

Directional Lighting

Directional lighting refers to light fixtures that focus illumination in a single direction. When set in a series, these fixtures provide dynamic focus to a room and can efficiently distribute light throughout a room. Directional lighting is commonly provided by bulbs affixed to a ceiling-mounted track, where individual lights can be angled and rotated on a pivot. Another popular choice comes in the form of recessed downward lighting, where the light is regulated by “can fixtures.”

Task Lighting

Task lighting is a specific type of directional lighting that is focuses illumination upon a specific area where a task needs to be performed. Task lighting should not be used to replace overall lighting needs, but rather to complement or fill the void of existing lighting. Task lighting typically comes in the form of table and desk lamps, clamp-type flexible arm lamps, book lights, and for the more adventurous, headlights.

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is designed to illuminate an entire room in a uniform and low-key manner. Ambient lighting should never be harsh on the eyes — it should create a comfortable environment that accommodates basic lighting needs. Popular lighting solutions for achieving this type of illumination include floor lamps, chandeliers, hanging lamps with low-watt bulbs, or hanging lamps filtered by cylindrical shades.

Hanging Pendant Lamps / Chandeliers

green lamps, energy efficient lighting, sustainable design, green design, energy-efficient light bulbs, philips, interior lighting, low-energy lighting, green lighting 101, Bic Pen Chandelier by En Pieza

Bic Pen Chandelier by En Pieza

The Bic ballpoint is an iconic writing utensil that has been honored by the MOMA for its refined utilitarian design – so imagine the attention that this recycled pen chandelier will draw in your home! Each brilliant recycled chandelier is designed by En Pieza using hundreds of Bic Crystal pens that refract and disperse light from within. You can also step up this chandelier’s eco cred by popping in an energy-efficient CFL or LED lamps, energy efficient lighting, sustainable design, green design, energy-efficient light bulbs, philips, interior lighting, low-energy lighting, green lighting 101, Cola Bottle Lamp by Sarah Turner

Cola Bottle Lamp by Sarah Turner

It’s hard to believe that Sarah Turner‘s brilliant starburst pendant lamps start out as a bunch of plain plastic bottles! The UK-based designer sandblasts old coke bottles, carefully cuts them into ribbon-like shapes, and then assembles them into orbital lanterns. Each elegant pendant lamp can be lit with a CFL or low-energy LED bulb.

green lamps, energy efficient lighting, sustainable design, green design, energy-efficient light bulbs, philips, interior lighting, low-energy lighting, green lighting 101

Clothes Hanger Chandelier by Luis Teixeira

Luis Teixeira‘s elegant recycled chandeliers are composed of cast-off clothes hangers fanned out in a circular array. We love how each unique hanging lamp lights up with a sparkling gleam that rivals the finest crystal chandeliers.

Pop Pendant Light by Mauricio Affonso

We love seeing innovative new uses for everyday materials, so we flipped our tops when we spotted this Pop Pendant Light painstakingly crafted from soda can pull tabs by Mauricio Affonso. Like a disco ball or punched tin lamp, the 15″ sphere casts a beautiful array of light beams and shadows when illuminated from within by an energy-efficient bulb.

green lamps, energy efficient lighting, sustainable design, green design, energy-efficient light bulbs, philips, interior lighting, low-energy lighting, green lighting 101

Recycled Coffee Stirrer Lamp by Studio Verissimo

Throwaway plastic coffee stirrers are a tremendous source of waste that plagues cafés around the world. Capitalizing on the way that plastic mimics the light-refracting properties of crystal, Studio Verissimo transformed hundreds of single-use stirrers into a stunning translucent chandelier!

16 Green Lamps to Light Up Your Life, green lamps, energy efficient lighting, sustainable design, green design, energy-efficient light bulbs, philips, interior lighting, low-energy lighting, green lighting 101

Philips Ledino Suspension Light

Philips’ Ledino Suspension Light is a streamlined fixture that consists of a single strip of glass fused with brushed aluminum and three 7.5W LED lights. The fixture boasts a lighter-than air aesthetic that complements any interior space, and its array of dimmable LED lights can emit four different shades of light — from warm white to cool white.

Floor Lamps

green lamps, energy efficient lighting, sustainable design, green design, energy-efficient light bulbs, philips, interior lighting, low-energy lighting, green lighting 101, Urchin Lamp by Molo

Urchin Lamp by Molo

Molo’s brilliant flat-pack Urchin Softlights start out as condensed reams of craft paper – but they unfurl into beautiful hexagonal honeycomb forms. Simply install a CFL or low-energy LED bulb and these cloud-like lamps will lend a warm, enchanting ambience to any room.

green lamps, energy efficient lighting, sustainable design, green design, energy-efficient light bulbs, philips, interior lighting, low-energy lighting, green lighting 101

Traffic Cone Light by Laura Haaker

This clever cone lamp by Laura Haaker is constructed from 6 connected traffic cones that expand outwards in a brilliant burst of color. This funky floor lamp can be easily outfitted with an energy-efficient LED or CFL bulb to add a dose of urban flare to any space.

Task Lamps

green lamps, energy efficient lighting, sustainable design, green design, energy-efficient light bulbs, philips, interior lighting, low-energy lighting, green lighting 101, Leaf Lamp by Yves Béhar, herman miller

Leaf Lamp by Yves Béhar

Although it was initially released in 2006, Yves Béhar’s Leaf Lamp continues to set the standard for energy-efficient task lighting. The desk lamp consists of two beautifully-sculpted strands of aluminum that are highly recyclable and keep material use to a minimum. The adjustable arm bristles with 20 bright LEDs, and a set of touch-sensitive controls at the lamp’s base allows for easy adjustment of light intensity. The entire lamp is made of 37% recycled materials and is 95% recyclable.

green lamps, energy efficient lighting, sustainable design, green design, energy-efficient light bulbs, philips, interior lighting, low-energy lighting, green lighting 101

Equo Desk Lamp by Koncept

Koncept’s svelte Equo lamp benefits from a pared-down profile that is as easy on the eyes as the light it sheds. A set of 28 bright white LEDs consume just 6 watts of energy, and a counterbalanced arm makes adjustments a snap.

green lamps, energy efficient lighting, sustainable design, green design, energy-efficient light bulbs, philips, interior lighting, low-energy lighting, green lighting 101

Ledino Desk Lamp by Philips

This minimalist Ledino Desk Lamp by Philips packs a powerful LED light source and a lighter-than-air aesthetic. Its streamlined aluminum arm can be easily adjusted into any position, and its warm white light source is rated to last for 20 years of use.

green lamps, energy efficient lighting, sustainable design, green design, energy-efficient light bulbs, philips, interior lighting, low-energy lighting, green lighting 101, Seagull Light by QisDesign

Seagull Light by QisDesign

This streamlined Seagull LED lamp by QisDesign takes off with a lyrical design reminiscent of a bird in flight. The pared-down light improves upon conventional task lamps with a dual-panel design that can be easily adjusted to suit a wide range of lighting needs.

Table Lamps

green lamps, energy efficient lighting, sustainable design, green design, energy-efficient light bulbs, philips, interior lighting, low-energy lighting, green lighting 101, Paper Tube Lamp by Ruth Oh

Paper Tube Light by Ruth Oh

Ruth Oh transforms everyday paper postage tubes into elegant cylindrical table lamps by simply slicing away sections of carboard. They’re designed to use energy-efficient bulbs like LEDs or CFLs which run at cooler temperatures than incandescents.

green lamps, energy efficient lighting, sustainable design, green design, energy-efficient light bulbs, philips, interior lighting, low-energy lighting, green lighting 101, Crystal Light by QisDesign

Crystal Lamp by QisDesign

Designed by QisDesign, the Crystal Light consists of a series of modular icosahedron LED blocks that snap together to form practically any shape. This gorgeous glowing table lamp can be also configured to light up in an array of colors and patterns – perfect for setting the mood in any interior space.

16 Green Lamps to Light Up Your Life, green lamps, energy efficient lighting, sustainable design, green design, energy-efficient light bulbs, philips, interior lighting, low-energy lighting, green lighting 101

Ledino Table Light

Philips’ Ledino Table Light is a versatile lighting solution that makes a great centerpiece for any room. The space-saving compact lamp is illuminated by a 3 LEDS that can cast either a directional spot light or a diffused lighting effect for at least 20,000 hours.

green lamps, energy efficient lighting, sustainable design, green design, energy-efficient light bulbs, philips, interior lighting, low-energy lighting, green lighting 101

Bedroom Lighting Tips

When it comes to lighting your home, there are a few little technicalities to consider — but thankfully they’re easy. Lets start with bedrooms, which are actually one of the easiest areas to light in your home. For general lighting you have three options: a flush-mounted fixture, a semi-flush mounted fixture, or a chandelier. Chandeliers can only be used if the bottom of the chandelier is at least 6 feet from the ground — more space is preferable unless it’s directly over a bed, in which case no one will be hitting their heads on it. The question of flush-mount vs semi-flush mount is also simple — the advantage to having a semi-flush is that light bounces of your ceiling, so you get more illumination for your buck — but of course it also depends on your style.

Supplement your general lighting with table lamps for good ambient lighting, and remember these table lamps aren’t for reading — lower wattage is great here! You can save energy with lower-watt lights that are gentler on your eyes if you need to turn them on in the middle of the night. If you do read in bed, purchasing a task light instead of a table lamp could be a great idea to maximize the light when reading and save your eyes from straining. In general floor lamps can also be used in bedrooms that do not have power in their ceilings. In this is the case the best thing to do is to look for a torchiere-style floor lamp which typically uses a high watt fluorescent to shine light at your ceiling so it can reflect and light the room.

green lamps, energy efficient lighting, sustainable design, green design, energy-efficient light bulbs, philips, interior lighting, low-energy lighting, green lighting 101

Kitchen Lighting Tips

As for the kitchen, pendant lamps look great over counters/islands/peninsulas and provide good light for cooking. Just remember to mount your pendants about 32-34 inches from the top of the counter. If the island is very narrow or isn’t a sit-down island, around 36 inches is the sweet spot. Determining the light size is simple — most pendants categorized as mini-pendants will do just fine for islands that are not very large. Just take into account how many pendants you would like, and space them out as symmetrically as possible for the best results.

Hanging a Dining Room Chandelier

The next part of lighting your kitchen or dining room that many people find frustrating is putting a chandelier over a table — just how big should that chandelier be? Well, there is a simple formula that will fix the frustration — take the shortest width of the table if it’s rectangular (or if it’s round then take the circumference), divide it by two, and then add a couple inches. For instance if you have a 48 inch table, you would use a 24-26 inch wide chandelier. The same rule for hanging pendants applies for chandeliers as well — mount it about 32-34 inches above the table, depending on the style of the chandelier. Take all these helpful tips and combine them with some of these green lighting options below to have your home look and function beautifully.

Green Lighting 101 >

+ 6 Green Lighting Tips

+ Your Guide to Energy-Efficient Lighting

Article taken from Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World –
URL to article:

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.

We’ve been talking about our experience in creating a zero net energy home lately. If you find yourself a little confused over what this means or are interested in learning how a zero net energy home can benefit you, here are a few facts to consider, courtesy of CT Zero Energy Challenge:

  • Zero Net Energy means that a home uses no more energy than what it produces on site. For example, if a given home used 7,500 kilowatt-hours of electricity in one year, but it produced 7,500 kilowatt-hours of electricity from a solar PV array in the same year, it would be considered a zero net energy home.
  • Typically, a home must have some type of on-site power generation in order to achieve the status of “zero net energy.” This could include solar, thermal, or even wind energy, depending on the conditions of the site on which the home is built.
  • Some state and federal programs do exist to help build zero net energy homes, including some federal tax credits for builders and homeowners who are looking to build a zero net energy home. The Department of Energy’s Building America and Builders Challenge programs are good resources for those who wish to create a super high efficiency home or building.

To learn more about Trilogy Partners‘ experience in creating a zero net energy home, check out our series titled “Zero Net Energy Home In Depth.”

This scale from the U.S. Department of Energy shows the difference between the energy performance of most homes and those that are Zero Energy homes.

Photo credit:

When Breckenridge homeowner Kyle M. decided to build a Net Zero home in Breckenridge, he knew the process could be daunting – but he was up for the challenge. He cared enough about reducing his energy usage that he searched and found an experienced team of Summit County professionals who would commit to his goal of building a zero energy home.

As we mentioned in our story yesterday, when our Breckenridge homeowner purchased his lot on Timber Trail Road, he knew that the overall design of the home would need to fit into the upscale theme of the Timber Trail neighborhood. Bringing the experience of having successfully reduced the energy consumption in his 10,000 sq. ft. Boulder home, he found a green building development team that could design and build a custom 8,000 sq. ft. home which would be as energy efficient as possible. Kyle selected Trilogy Partners of Breckenridge who were already well known for their expertise in designing luxury homes, interior design and construction management while incorporating environmental solutions and features into houses.

What follows is the journey of the home starting from the inside and covering the home’s energy modeling, insulation and framing.

Energy Modeling

First challenge: how to work with a and intricate architectural design and meet the goal of Zero Energy. Among the first professionals engaged for the Breckenridge Net Zero Home was Andy Walker and Renee Azerbegi of Ambient Energy of Denver. Ambient developed a net zero energy model which provided an analysis of how much energy is needed to power the home’s lighting, heating, coolingand other daily living needs. “Our greatest challenge was making a significantly-sized home energy efficient and renewably powered,” said Renee of Ambient Energy. “Based on the energy efficiency and net zero energy modeling and analysis, we determined how to reduce the life cycle energy use of the home and save over $58,000 in energy costs over the life of the home. We used an hourly energy use simulation model to calculate how to provide 100 percent of the house’s energy use from on-site renewable energy systems,” said Walker of Ambient Energy. The energy report recommended a combination of a large solar electric PV array along with a geo exchange system for space heating.

Framing and Insulation

However, before the team focused on the renewable energy systems it was important to make the home as energy efficient as possible to reduce the need for additional energy in the first place. The team turned to Joe Sundquist of Sundquist Design Group, Inc. in Conifer, Colorado. “To address the owner and builder’s desire to make this building energy efficient, we wanted to minimize unnecessary framing, while allow for increased insulation wherever possible,” said Sundquist. The home design utilizes manufactured lumber products purchased through The Breckenridge Building Center. Heavy timber members were used to create the structural framing system. Exposed wood beams were functioning as structural support elements to minimize redundancy within the framing system. Boise Cascade engineered wood products were chosen for framing purposes. Engineered wood products eliminate the waste associated with inconsistencies found in traditional wood products and typically uses only half of the wood fiber compared to ordinary lumber. “Boise engineered floor joists are 54 percent stronger and 33 percent stiffer than traditional lumber, yet use 48 percent less wood fiber, “said Jeff Sexton out of Boise Cascade’s Denver office. “The stronger engineered lumber allowed for increased stud spacing and greater insulation coverage,” said Sexton. By increasing the distance between the studs, the home was able to have approximately 30 percent more insulation.

Once the framing was complete Shane Aschan, owner of The Foamers, Inc. based in Silverthorne, Colorado, managed the insulation process. To ensure the inside of the structure was insulated to the highest degree possible and that the in-floor radiant heat would perform efficiently, Aschan sprayed a high density closed cell foam insulation with an R-value of R 14 under all slabs of the home before the concrete was poured. The Foamers insulated the exterior walls of the home with 3 to 3 1/2 inches of polyurethane closed cell foam with an R value of R 21 and insulated the roof with 6 1/2 inches of polyure- thane closed cell foam with an R value of R 40. “One of the building criteria we needed to meet was to produce an even flat surface of the finished foam to help the other subcontractors do their work efficiently,” said Aschan. Continuing on the insulation, Colorado Building Company insulated the exterior of the home using Dow Building Solutions Styrofoam Residential Sheathing. “One square foot of properly installed Styrofoam insulation of one inch thick can avert over one ton of CO2 emissions during the average life of a building,” said Karen Durfee, senior account manager with Dow Building Solutions, based in Denver.

More tomorrow on the Breckenridge home’s renewable energy systems and how an automatic lighting program functions as an energy management system.


After Kyle M, a successful Colorado direct marketing business man became a father his perspective changed. Watching his children grow older and seeing the environmental challenges they would face, he began to learn all he could to convert his Colorado home from an energy hog to an energy miser. Kyle succeeded. He hired a Denver solar engineering firm to install a 10 kW solar photovoltaic array which reduced his electric bill by 75 percent. He put in a solar greenhouse which brings heated air into the home and doubles as a cozy family room. He switched out his light bulbs to compact fluorescent (CFLs) which use about 1⁄4 the energy of incandescent light bulbs. Perhaps most importantly he used technology to assist him and his family to make significant lifestyle changes to conserve energy. He learned that by programming simple occupancy sensor devices to turn lights off in key rooms after two minutes of no activity, he could dramatically reduce his energy usage – without the constant reminders  his family “… please turn the lights off when you leave the room!” Kyle set an even higher goal when he decided to buy a lot on Timber Trail Road to build a ski in/ski out mountain home in Breckenridge. This luxury Summit County house would be a net zero energy home. The goal was to design and build an 8,000 sq. ft. highly attractive mountain home that fit seamlessly into the existing neighborhood and whose renewable energy systems were well integrated into the overall house design. Over the following months, a skilled and committed team of professionals was brought together to achieve these goals. This is the first time in Summit County that a team of this depth and experience in environmental building and renewable energy solutions has been assembled.

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