Tedd Benson Named Co-Chair of Vision 2020 Design + Performance panel

Tedd Benson, Jan 2013

Tedd Benson, Jan 2013

Tedd will work with other members of the Vision 2020 panel to re-imagine home design and construction in the US. He articulates his vision in this first interview for Vision 2020.

Here is the Mission 2020 vision statement, from EcoHome:

The mission of the program focuses on mapping a clear path towards sustainability in residential construction between now and 2020.

“Our industry can lead the way towards sustainability if we follow the right path and measure our progress,” said EcoHome editorial director Rick Schwolsky. “And that’s the mission for Vision 2020. We’ve enlisted an unprecedented team of multi-disciplinary leaders from all sectors who will collaborate throughout the year, sharing their research, perspectives, and projections so that we can map our path, set our milestones, and achieve our goals for sustainability together.”

As an integral part of the Vision 2020 initiative, EcoHome has convened an esteemed group of the industry’s foremost experts, innovators and thought leaders to serve as Chairs across ten key topic areas. Their year-long engagement with the program will provide visionary content, recommendations, and conclusions.

New Tools for Calculating Energy Usage in Net Zero Homes

Over the years at Bensonwood we’ve designed and built a number of LEED certified, Net-Zero homes and commercial buildings, but our team never stops in our quest to learn more, and deliver new and better design/build methods to the benefit of our clients, our world and our structures.

(Some noteworthy projects: Unity House which partially informed and inspired our new Unity Homes brand, the Net-Zero Coast Maine Botanical Gardens, and Burr and Burton Academy* which we recently blogged about).Rheannon DeMond

Bensonwood Assistant Project Manager Rheannon DeMond recently completed the Net Zero Energy Homes 10 week course as part of the NESEA Building Energy Masters Series that covered every aspect of designing a Net Zero Energy Home.  Rheannon has a background in building energy performance but was looking to further educate herself on the necessary calculations, systems and technologies that it takes to design a home for Net Zero Energy use.

(Read a post by Marc Rosenbaum who taught the course, on his Thriving on Low Carbon blog).

“What the company and myself got out of this course was a set of excellent calculation tools to make estimating all aspects of energy usage much easier.  We are now capable of estimating the total energy usage for a home in the North East, and the size of the Photovoltaic array that can handle those loads to make a home Net Zero capable.  The tools will also allow us to analyze current designs to show home owners the advantages and disadvantages of certain systems and orientations.  As a company that is always striving to be more efficient, this course has given us the additional information and tools to allow us to better design homes that will continue to save our clients money and reduce their impact on the environment.”

Please join us in congratulating Rheannon on completing the course.  Her expanded knowledge will benefit both Bensonwood and our clients!

*Note: Burr and Burton Academy’s Mountain Campus academic building was designed/built to achieve Net-Zero energy status and LEED Platinum certification but has not yet been certified.

Burr and Burton Academy

A view of the Burr and Burton Mountain Campus Academic Building as you approach from the road.

A view of the Burr and Burton Mountain Campus Academic Building as you approach from the road.

At Bensonwood we’re proud of our nearly 40 year history as the premier designer/builder of energy-efficient timber frame, hybrid, and other high-performance homes.

But we have also built a strong reputation for designing and building LEED certified, energy efficient and architecturally striking commercial buildings and specialty structures.

Recently, Bensonwood Lead Architect Randall Walter and other members of our architecture and engineering team designed the Burr and Burton Mountain Campus Academic Building.

Dedicated on August 23, 2012 in time for the opening of the school’s fall semester, the building is designed to be a living classroom with a goal of achieving LEED Platinum designation and Net-Zero energy status.

BBA Heater

The masonry heater is a focal point within the “Clearing” in the Mountain Campus Academic Building

Randall worked closely with the Burr and Burton team to ensure that the building not only fit into the natural surroundings of the site but truly became part of the learning experience for students, blending scientific architecture with artistic abstraction. Design features include ceilings inspired by the structure of the underside of a leaf, a skylight that casts light on the native Vermont slate clad masonry heater, between two reclaimed oak trees primary walls splayed at 14.5 degrees, celebrating the variation between true north and magnetic north in southern Vermont.

In keeping with typical Bensonwood design and construction practices, locally sourced materials where used wherever possible.

Speaking at the dedication ceremony Randall noted that a quote by Winston Churchill inspired the design – “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”

Below Randall has provided additional information on some of the features of the building:

Size

  • Primary building area: 4000 square feet
  • Total building including overhangs: 6200 square feet

Building Materials

  • Marvin Ultimate clad Triple glazed windows and doors (R-5)
  • Cellulose insulated walls (R-35) and roof (R-60)
  • Red Oak – log posts from Alstead, NH & BBA campus
  • Nordic-Lam – engineered timbers – Canadian black spruce
  • Eastern white pine – rafters & ceiling boards
  • White and red pine wall boards (red pine from BBA campus)
  • Hemlock – rough sawn, random width siding from NH and VT
  • Western cedars – exterior posts and beams
  • Sliding barn doors – reclaimed local barn board, oak frames
  • VT sourced maple benches and window sills
  • VT Shadow Grey slate tile
  • VT Verde Green brushed marble counters and hearth

Interior and Exterior Finishes

  • Vermont Natural Coatings – whey based finish – used on all wood and concrete surfaces
  • All finishes have low or no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Performance

  • Wood burning masonry heater
  • Air-source heat pumps
  • Energy Recovery Ventilators for fresh air
  • Photovoltaic arrays (Sept/Oct install) to achieve Zero net energy
  • All plumbing fixtures exceed EPA water sense standards
  • Preliminary blower door test below Passiv standards for air infiltration (495cfm@ACH50)

Construction Schedule

  • Foundation installed November 2011
  • Prefabrication offsite over winter
  • Site access reopened April 2012
  • Delivery of prefabricated parts and assembly begins May 2012
  • Building completed in 4 months
  • Waste management plan exceeded LEED requirements – near 93% waste diversion
  • Anticipated LEED points 82-83 (Platinum threshold is 80)