The Modern Net Zero house that architect Arielle Condoret Schecher, AIA ,designed for her favorite builder, Kevin Murphy of NewPhire Building and his family of four, is, according to Murphy, “a warm and functional family home as well as a showcase of cutting-edge green building techniques.”
Architecturally, the house effortlessly combines environmental stewardship with the simple volumes, flat rooflines, open floor plan, and indoor-outdoor living that define modern styling. The first floor features a spacious living/dining/kitchen area connected to a screen porch that extends the living space outdoors. The master bedroom wing is located on the first floor with the children’s suite – complete with a multipurpose music and entertainment room – and home office upstairs. Typical of Schechter’s residential work, a private interior courtyard links all spaces together.
The house is located on a 4.3-acre site at the end of a private gravel road that is very secluded yet only a seven-minute drive from Chapel Hill or Carrboro, NC. Despite the size of the lot, stream buffers, setbacks to existing well and septic concerns, and a new leach field left Murphy with a surprisingly small area on which to build his home.
The site’s eastern line runs down to the branch of a small creek. Beyond the creek, dozens of acres of Triangle Land Conservancy property provides a lush buffer for wildlife. The screen porch faces the forest.
Designed to be Net Zero, Murphy's home is already proving to be Net Positive. The 7.9 kW solar array is providing about $30 per month of excess electricity that Murphy intends to use for an electric car. The HERS (Home Energy Rating System) score is a -3 -- a phenomenal score that indicates that this is, indeed, a net positive house. Murphy and Schechter anticipate a National Green Building Standard Gold rating.
Murphy said he will employ the techniques he’s learned while building Certified Passive Houses. His home will be super-insulated and extremely air tight, far beyond regular building code requirements. To provide the home with fresh air, Murphy and Schechter will utilize the cutting-edge Conditioning Energy Recovery Ventilator (CERV) that they used at the Happy Meadows home. The CERV filters, dehumidifies and tempers incoming fresh air before distributing it to the living area. The home will be heated and cooled by two tiny Fujitsu mini-split heat pumps and all of the windows will be high performance, European, triple-pane tilt and turn by Awilux. As a result, the house will need only a small array of photovoltaic (solar) panels to produce all the electricity the house will need.
To maximize both passive and active solar gain, the house’s axis run east to west, thereby capturing an abundance of southern sunlight.
According to its architect and builder/homeowner, this modern, high-performance house will be part of the 2016 Green Home Tour sponsored by the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange and Chatham counties.