A commentary in the recent edition of Fine Homebuilding Magazine’s ‘Energy-Smart Homes’ (Winter 2013) points out the need for more homes designed and built with energy-efficiency and other sustainable principles that are within the reach of the average home owner.
Residential designer and project manager Michael Maines explains the premise of the ‘Pretty Good House’, “It’s about finding the sweet spot between initial cost and long-term savings, paying attention to critical details while maintaining ease of construction, providing energy-efficiency without ignoring aesthetics, and allowing for comfort while maintaining reasonable size.”
Programs like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Passivhaus Institute are examples of building standards achieving the highest levels when it comes to sustainability. While they are admirable targets for many buildings, your average home owner may not have the desire or budget to attain or adhere to the strict rules required for those programs.
Some of the initial thoughts on what constitutes a ‘Pretty Good House’ where discussed at the September 2012 annual meeting of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association in Portland, Oregon:
- supports the local economy in material and labour use;
- energy level monitoring after construction and on an on-going basis;
- minimal or reasonable operating costs;
- well insulated;
- reasonable in size;
- quality-built and durable construction;
- possible to recycle in the future;
- incorporates accessibility standards;
- and must be well-designed and comfortable.
Battle Lake Design Group has demonstrated these sustainability goals in the homes we have designed. Mill Creek Flexhomes features energy-efficient straw bale construction while the design is modern and urban in context. Many of our homes are designed for ‘owner-builders’, young families or couples wanting to ‘age-in-place’, who act as their own general contractor and are directly involved in the construction of their home. This requires our designs to not only be energy efficient, but also executable and attainable on the average family’s budget.