Friday, January 28, 2011

Your Two Cents

You might have noticed this blog is a new venture. As we get up and running, I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments on any of the following:
  • What would you like to know about healthy and efficient homes?
  • Who would you like to hear from on this topic?
  • Any homes we should check out?
  • What types of technologies and systems are you curious about?
  • Are you interested in solar PV and solar thermal?
  • Energy monitoring and blower door tests?
  • Passive houses?
  • LEED certified homes?
  • Natural landscaping?
  • Eco-interior design and art?
  • Little things you can do to keep your home warmer, healthier, and more cost efficient?
  • Are there other blogs on these topics you'd like to recommend?
  • Have a story to share?
  • Suggestions on a good story to cover?
Any and all thoughts are welcome and appreciated. Thank you!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Q+A with Keith Collins About His Net Zero BrightBuilt Barn

From the Bright-Minded Home column in Maine Home + Design:

Keith Collins is the owner of the BrightBuilt Barn in Rockport, Maine, a super-insulated, highly weather-tight structure that is “net zero,” meaning it creates more energy than it uses and over time will, in fact, erase its own carbon footprint. Designed by Kaplan Thompson Architects, the barn was featured in Maine Home + Design magazine almost two years ago. I checked in with Collins to see how it’s performing.

Q: What’s been the most successful component of the building?
A: Some people imagine you need a PhD to live in an energy-efficient, solar home. In fact, we’ve had zero problems with the solar photovoltaic (PV) and thermal hot water systems, and are putting about 5,000 kilowatt hours of solar electricity back into the grid each year.

Q: What’s been the least useful?
A: We got famous for the light skirt around the outside of the building that turns green when the solar PV system is putting energy back into the grid and red when we’re using more energy than we’re generating. The thinking was that if you’re aware of how much energy you’re using you tend to use less. However, the house is so efficient that if the sun is out, we’re green, and if the sun isn’t out, we’re red. We don’t need a light skirt to tell us that, all we need to do is look at the sky.

Q: What’s new on the horizon?
A: We’ve tallied the votes, and Community Partners, Inc., of Biddeford, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that has been providing direct support to individuals with disabilities since 1967, has won the BrightBuilt Retrofit. They will receive $10,000 in seed money and access to up to $90,000 in interest-free loans to retrofit their building with the goal of reducing energy consumption by at least 50 percent. The retrofit should be completed by summer 2011.

Check for more information and share your thoughts here.