Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Q+A with Jeremy Burden, owner of the Harmony House, Opus II in Freeport

From the October 2011 Bright-Minded Home column in Maine Home + Design:

Designed by architect Christopher Briley of Green Design Studio, Opus II was the first home in New England to receive a LEED Gold Certification based on features including a geothermal heat pump, passive solar design, balloon framing, and super insulation, as well as the use of natural and local materials such as zero VOC paint and local cedar shingles.

What have been the benefits of your home’s efficient features?
The southern orientation, geothermal heat with the concrete radiant flooring, extremely tight envelope, and great insulation provide stellar efficiency. Our energy costs of just over $1,000 a year are approximately a third of the cost of my office in a 1900s building with a modern oil/baseboard. There are no extra rooms or wasted space in this house and the room proportions and window/natural light placement make it a very relaxing and natural space. It feels like the perfect size for our family of four though it is almost 1,500 square feet less than what many of our friends have for similar size families. In our case, less energy, less materials, and less waste means more efficient, more comfortable, and more economical.

Photo by Christopher Briley
Are there any systems or products that you’ve found less useful than others?
The positive pressure fireplace/stove is more than is needed. A simple sealed fireplace would be adequate for a house this tight.

What's Next
This house is ready to install PV panels. I'm waiting for a great cost/benefit scenario to come to fruition before investing in that technology.

See more Chris Briley designs at

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