Boulder – Meeting with Eric Doub, EcoFutures Inc

From my investigations I found that EcoFutures is very proactive in delivering net zero houses in Boulder. We were delighted that he was able to take time on Saturday to take us to two houses he has been involved with, one being his own home.

EcoFutures has been involved with zero net energy and high performance homes for over 10 years. Eric is very passionate about the idea, which is what prompted him to design and develop his own home as a showcase and great learning experience!

The first home we went to was the Longmont ZNE Home for the Hainlines family. They had moved in about four days before we arrived - we were very thankful for them letting us in so early into their occupation!

This large home (over 500m2) looks like it will be a net zero energy home. This will be due to a high performing building envelope, including windows/doors; a sunspace that hosts the solar thermal panels and creates warm air for the home; a 10 kW PV system on the south facing roof; energy efficient lights and appliances; and an energy monitoring system that will encourage the occupants to understand the impacts of their actions and adjust accordingly. The clients (especially the kids) are clearly delighted with their new home with spectacular views and great comfort!

We then went to Solar Harvest, which is Eric's own house. Extensive information on this can be found at his website http://www.ecofuturesbuilding.com/2009/10/solar-harvest/

The house is very simple in planning with a sunspace that runs across the whole south face of the building. This is the conditioning space that helps feed the rest of the house, with the assistance of a HRV unit and air from a sub ground tube. The kitchen, dining and living rooms are located behind this with the bedrooms above and an extensive basement below. The compact shape, high performing envelope and PVs/solar thermal collectors on the south facing roofs mean this house makes more energy than it uses. And the clients are very happy!

It is interesting to note that the houses have a very different relationship between the inside living spaces and the external living spaces than those that I am interested in creating for my clients. I think this more open connection needs to be designed so that it can be tightly sealed when the weather is not favourable and opened right up when it is. A critical factor for me to consider further.

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