A picturesque farmhouse on 15 acres in Ann Arbor, Michigan was just officially crowned the world’s second “Living Building” residence by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). The owners of Burh Becc at Beacon Springs, Tom and Marti Burbeck, spent five years working with a team of 20 designers, engineers, architects and sustainability experts to transform their 2,200 square foot home into an icon of truly sustainable living that gives more than it takes.
The beautiful farmhouse, whose design was inspired by traditional Tuscan farmhouses, has a large living space of 2,200 square feet. Additionally, the property has a 2,400 square foot barn and workshop. The farmland had been previously depleted due to years of commodity farming. Following the Living Building criteria, the land was carefully revamped with permaculture farming methods using an integrated system of agriculture, horticulture and ecology, creating a system that will be regenerative for centuries to come. The Burbeck’s not only use these farming methods to grow their own food, but they also provide healthy food for the local community – and for those with limited access to fresh produce.
To create a net-zero energy design, the home is equipped with clean energy generation through a 16.9-kilowatt solar array, which provides electricity to the home and back into the grid. Additionally, a passive solar system works with a very tight thermal envelope and a tall cooling tower to minimize heating and cooling needs. A closed-loop geothermal system provides radiant floor heating during the cold Michigan winters.
For water conservation, the home uses a rainwater and snow harvesting system to be water net-positive. A rainwater collection system reroutes to supply 7,500 gallons of in-ground cisterns, used for non-potable water. An on-site well provides potable water at the moment to comply with local building codes, but the home is installed with a future-ready potable rainwater filtration system.
After more than three and a half years designing the reformation, 18 months in construction and a year of performance auditing, Burh Becc at Beacon Springs Farm was awarded the Living Building Challenge certification in December 2017. Additionally, the home has been awarded a Platinum LEED Certification.
When the Burbecks were asked why they took on such an ambitious project, they explained that it just made sense to their lifestyle. According to Marti Burbeck, “As we looked at the criteria for LBC certification we thought, why not go for it. If our goals include helping to change peoples’ relationship with the environment and to change building philosophies, we should start with our own project, and then become advocates.”
Now that they’ve achieved their dream of converting Burh Becc into an icon of sustainability, they’re on their way to becoming advocates. The couple plan to host educational workshops and house tours to educate the community, the building industry, government officials, and anyone who will listen about the benefits of truly sustainable living.
Via CSR Wire
Images via Burh Becc at Beacon Springs