If someone told you that you were going to live in a house in New England, through the Winter, without a furnace, you'd probably laugh. Yet that is exactly what Kaplan Thompson Architects and Bensonwood Homes did with Maine's BrightBuilt Barn.Judging by BrightBuilt's recent Innovative Project Award from the US Green Building Council, the project is definitely a success. BrightBuilt Barn also received a LEED Platinum rating from the USGBC, the highest attainable designation in this national green rating program, with fewer than 10 percent of the projects certified by the USGBC receiving this rating.
For more photos of the project, and to hear more about how it's heated and its other eco features,
While BrightBuilt Barn's current purpose is as a working studio, it can easily be turned into a two-bedroom residence, thanks to its flexible design. Part of the reason the building doesn't require a furnace is due to its extremely insulated envelope: all walls, ceilings, roof, and floors are R-40 insulation value (typical American homes come closer to R-19, with no floor insulation at all). Radiant heating, installed throughout the floors, ensures that there are no cold spots anywhere in the house.
The home also generates all of its own electricity and heat energy, thanks to a roof covered with 30 solar panels able to produce approximately 20 kWh or 210 watts per day, making the system capable of producing 6.2 kw at peak production. Amazingly, BrightBuilt Barn can meet over half of the yearly heating oil consumption of a conventionally constructed house through the use of solar tubes alone. For safety's sake, a back-up air handling heat pump unit, which can also double as an air conditioner in the Summer, has been installed.
Interested in something similar? Learn how you can own your own BrightBuilt Barn here.