The Farmhouse in Boulder, Colorado is one of the greenest homes I've ever set foot in. It's also beautiful - with a wide open plan and floor-to-ceiling windows that create a strong sense of interconnectedness with the surrounding landscape. Approached by the owners to build a traditional farmhouse with a gentle environmental footprint and a modern aesthetic, Kirsten Snobeck from Rodwin Architecture responded with a regenerative design that produces more energy than it uses. So much energy, in fact, the local utility company forks out up to $120 each month for power pumped back into the grid. A LEED Platinum certified project with a 10.2kW PV system, negative 8 HERS rating and Energy Star v.3.0, the Farmhouse boasts a bevy of impressive sustainability features. Read on to learn more.
“We began by deconstructing the dilapidated existing house and donating its materials to ReSource,” Rodwin Architecture wrote in their design brief. “We sited the new house in the previously-disturbed area to protect the soil and the existing nearby marsh. The remaining site was devoted to permaculture and urban agriculture (there’s even a little passive solar chicken coop/greenhouse). The roof and gutter systems direct water into the gardens and rainwater harvesting barrels.”
Carefully-oriented to maximize passive solar gain and natural light and enclosed by a heavily insulated envelope, illuminated with mostly LED lighting fixtures and equipped with some of the most efficient appliances on the market, the home doesn’t require much energy to run in the first place. Concerned to reduce the utility’s burden, the owners ended up buying an electric vehicle to sap up some of their excess power. Not a bad problem to have.
Inside, the home looks and feels healthy. Thanks to low-VOC paint and a sophisticated air filtration system, the indoor air quality is excellent, while reclaimed materials combined with FSC-certified timber and beetle-kill pine soffits, accent walls, and cabinets create a wholesome atmosphere – just like an old farmhouse but better. A series of other thoughtful interventions, including a cardboard chandelier, detailing designed to match the dining room furniture, and a small hobbit window in the master bedroom’s meditation corner, reflect the owners’ individual personalities, making it home. The accessible bedroom and bathroom downstairs ensures it will remain that way for years to come.
Rodwin Architecture writes, “What makes this project truly special for us is how this conventionally attractive, cost-effective design was precisely tailored to the owners’ needs and simultaneously achieved an uncompromised level of sustainability.”