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2017 Challenge Participant:

Fore Group - Smith Residence

Applicant: Mario & Barbara Smith

Project Address: Old Dam Road, Fairfield, CT 06824

Bdrms./Sq. Footage: TBD

Builder Website: www.http://www.foregroupinc.com/

Project Overview Project Specifications Project Team Project Photos
The Fore Group - Smith Residence project in Fairfield, CT.

General Project Overview:

Fairfield County, CT has a beautiful coastline and high real estate values, especially near the Long Island Sound. This house sits on a special property set creek side on a peninsula, adjacent to a protected nature reserve, with beautiful Sound views.

The owners, with six grown kids between them, decided to construct a budget friendly new house to take advantage of the spectacular property. The house was also meant to provide a sustainable, energy efficient, low maintenance lifestyle that could be the family homestead for present and future generations.

At 4,660 sf of conditioned space (includes unfinished attic storage) and 4,220 of finished living space, the new home is large by energy efficiency standards but necessary for the family needs and local market resale values. The main rooms of the house were carefully positioned on the property to face the creek, the Sound and the nature reserve. Squeezed between wetlands on two sides, the creek on one side and a setback on the remaining side, the house ended up as two staggered boxes with varying roof lines to hold the solar panels.

To meet the FEMA regulatory requirements, the first floor was set eleven feet above the average grade level and the open area underneath had to allow for the free passage of water. This created a sixth thermal boundary with its own challenges for insulating and air sealing the utilities leading from the house to the street.

There was no room in the budget for complicated wall assemblies, exterior foam (except under first floor), extensive thermal bridge details or even higher R values. Simple, economical details prevailed with an open floor plan, exposed and painted interior structural steel members, and simple stock purchased cabinets, plumbing fixtures, floor and wall finishes. Air sealing was a top priority. Even with the myriad of pipes and structural elements in the exterior framing the air infiltration rate was an impressive 1.28ACH/50 and .19 CFM/SF.

The owners hired a third-party rater and the project was successfully certified to comply with Energy Star Version 3 and achieved a final HERS score of -2.

Special Features:

  • The project was designed and built to meet EPA ENERGY STAR Version 3.0 & FEMA regulatory requirements

  • The project was engineered to meet and exceed the code required 100 MPH sustained wind loads for the SW part of CT. Advanced framing was combined with structural steel moment framing to withstand hurrican force winds while also allowing large window openings for the views.

  • A rain garden was designed and built with all native plants to capture the roof runoff and excess storm surge water.

  • New England vernacular with a modern feel produced a simple, straight forward design that could stand the test of time.

Orientation and Envelope:

  • Orientation & Views: The house was designed for the main roof line to be oriented south, while allowing for views to east for ocean views, breezes and the sunrise, and to west for nature reserve views and the sunset. All of the bedrooms and the finished attic floor have multiple orientations for cross ventilation.

  • Resiliency: Prosoco, R- Guard air and water barrier system was applied to all exterior walls and the window/exterior door rough openings. Performance tested and proven to withstand extreme weather conditions, R-Guard protected buildings are more durable, resilient and sustainable. The exterior materials were selected for durability and to withstand the harsh salt air. Siding and trim is a simple combination of oversized PVC trim and James Hardie ColorPlus, Arctic White lap siding.

  • Windows & Doors: Windows and doors are triple-glazed euro-style with combination of tilt and turn, fixed and lift/slide doors They have PVC frames for low maintenance. Most of the large doors and windows face south and south- west to increase the passive solar gain in the winter.

  • Envelope Performance: The home achieved a blower door result of 1.28 air changes per hour at 50 pascals of pressure. Thermal envelope properties consisted of the following:

    • First floor: 9 ½" TJI joists with R 40 closed cell foam plus additional R 6.5 of rigid foam that was all all taped and sealed. Total R-46.5

    • Exterior Walls: 2x6 wood studs at 24" OC  plus additional 2x strapping with 7" of water- based open cell foam. Total R-25.

    • Roof Rafters/All vaulted ceiling: 2x10 with 9 ½" of closed cell foam. Total R-60.

Heating, Cooling, and Hot Water:

  • Air-Source Heat Pump: Heating & cooling are provided via an electric Mitsubishi air-source heat pump with efficiencies of 10 HSPF/17.5 SEER. Mitsubishi MXZ4C36 Heat Pump (outdoor unit) with 1- MVZ24 fan coil and 3-MSZFH09 wall hung units. And one (1) MXZ5C42 Heat pump (outdoor unit) with 1-MVZ18 fan coil, 1-MVZ12 fan coil and 2-MSZ09 wall hung units.

  • Domestic Hot Water: Domestic hot water is supplied via a Navien NPE-S, Standard Series, high performance condensing tankless water heater.


  • Ventilation: All windows & exterior doors are placed strategically for natural ventilation. Mechanical ventilation is achieved with an Renewaire ERV model EV200.


  • Lighting: All lighting fixtures installed are LED.


  • Renewables: To increase the goal of becoming net zero the roof lines were designed to hold a minimum 15 KW solar system. There are a total of (47) LG320 NIC PV panels and the system includes the advanced Enphase microinverter technology plus the Enphase “My Enlighten” monitoring system.

Resource Sustainability Features: 

  • Environmentally Friendly Materials: High indoor air quality achieved through no VOC paints, floor stains and finishes, and Greenguard certified carpet. The kitchen and vanity cabinets are from a company that requires third party auditing to certify that paints and varnishes are formaldehyde free.
  • Resiliency Features: Interior materials at the ground/entry level include water, rust and mold resistant drywall, natural FSC cedar, natural stone, stainless steel and galvanized metal. All of the exterior siding, PVC trim and stainless steel railing systems were selected for their durability and long lasting performance.
  • Design Features: The dryer is an electric, ventless heat pump to eliminate need for additional penetration through exterior wall.
  • Water Conservation: Plumbing fixtures were selected based on their "Water Sense" features.
Website by: 505 Creative Services, Guilford CT  |  www.505Creative.com
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