2016 Challenge Participant:

Medusa Management - Kwesell Residence

Applicant: Lisa Kwesell

Project Address: 2 Minor Road, East Haven, CT 06512

Bdrms./Sq. Footage: TBD

Project Overview Project Specifications Project Team Project Photos
The Medusa Management - Kwesell Residence project in East Haven, CT.

General project overview:

Complete build of new elevated home to replace "superstorm" Sandy damaged beach cottage located one row off the beach near East Haven's Silver Sands Beach.  

Special Features:

  • Goal was to achieve maximum energy efficiency via a low HERS rating while retaining coastal charm and character of the local community.  Exposed rafter tails, wood interior, decks and shingle siding were all key components of the design plan.   Due to location near the water, control for moisture management also prevalent in all design decisions.   Entire interior of home is built with FSA southern yellow pine and not one piece of sheet rock!  (save for cement/green board in the shower enclosures and under the house for fire-block purposes).  

Orientation and Envelope: (windows, insulation, framing)

  • High efficiency Marvin Integrity windows (with low U and hi solar gain LowE on south facing windows - limited east and west windows with practically no northern facing windows).  Triple pane windows were not yet available on the Integrity brand when we started construction (choice of fiberglass exterior was key near the water for ease of maintenance and increased durability).  We used a mix of blown closed cell, polyiso and eps sheets, fluffy fiberglass batts in various aspects when it was most efficient to control for moisture and air sealing.   Framing was traditional 2x6 studs with 24" centers with taped zip walls, but extra foam was lapped and taped outside the zip and an exoskeleton of 3/4" plywood was installed to increase sheer and provide a nail base for the siding; the result provided hyper efficient 12" thick R44 walls and R72 ceiling.    Metal roof installed primarily for maintenance and durability at the water.   

  • House (by sheer luck and coincidence) was nearly perfectly oriented in an E/W plane with the primary south facing windows maximizing solar gain as well as water view.  South facing windows are partially obscured with over hangs limiting summer gain (with higher orientation of the sun in summer) and protected by interior shades at all times.  

  • Penetrations of the envelope were kept to a minimum.  There are two vent pipes for plumbing, a chimney for the woodstove, and an "in" and "out" for the HRV.   The kitchen hood is re-circulating with carbon filters and the bath fans are connected to the HRV which eliminated several traditional penetrations.  

Heating, Cooling, and Hot Water:

  • Primary heat is provided by a Navien NCB240 on demand boiler paired with two zone pex radiant heat laid in self leveling mud between plywood sleepers.  This system provides both thermal mass combined with radiant heat.  Back up heat is provided by the LG heat pump which also provides split duct air conditioning (size specific heads in each living space = 9,000, 12,000 and 18,000 btu units inside).   The LG also has a dehumidify setting.  Tertiary heat provided by centrally located Jotul woodstove.  For cooling, all interior doors were designed as pocket doors (so as not to block cross ventilation) and all windows and doors line up across the other side of the house to provide for improved natural ventilation and natural cooling.  The Navien boiler also provides all the required on demand domestic hot water.  All internal domestic water lines were insulated with EPS foam sleeves. 

  • While the house does not quite meet passive standards, the solar gain during winter day light hours increases internal temperature without any additional heat sources.  This is insufficient for consistent permanent heat sources, but the combination of southern exposure with the thermal mass of the cement in the radiant system contributes to efficiencies.  


  • Aside from designing to provide for maximized natural cross ventilation described above, the house has a Fantech SHR 1505R HRV installed which provides MRV 13 level filtration as well as recirculation of clean air to all the living spaces.  The Fantech is also available to control humidity in both warm/muggy and cold/dry weather periods.  


  • Traditional wiring and layout with utilization of as much LED fixtures and equipment as could reasonably be installed.  200 amp service.   Extensive use of LED bulbs, energy star appliances throughout.  


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Resources Sustainability Features:

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