2013 Challenge Participant:

CK Architects - Mists of Avalon

Applicant: Russell Campaigne

Project Address: Litchfield County, CT

Bdrms./Sq. Footage: TBD

Builder Websites: www.ck-architects.com, www.jandpbuildingandremodeling.com

Project Overview Project Specifications Project Team Project Photos
The CK Architects - Mists of Avalon project in Litchfield County, CT.


The project goal is to address the need for a practical long-term housing solution to support local organic farming in Litchfield County. The new 3 bedroom home that sits on a 16 acre certified organic farm will be leased to Wild Carrot Farm LLC upon completion.  The zero energy, low-impact design fits perfectly with the ideals and operational requirements of the organic farm.  The investment in energy efficiency and durability will deliver tangible, stable long term returns, just as the organic farming techniques invest in the land to deliver nutrition and health to the community. This project reflects the desire to maximize the productivity of the property, while minimizing the impact on the environment.


We have focused on creating a high-performance envelope in order to minimize the loads within the house.  Once the loads are driven down to less than 12,000 BTU peak winter heating requirement, we are able to look to simple, low-cost solutions for the heating and cooling plan. We also have brought the conservation strategy to the farming component of the project.  We have located the vegetable prep and storage areas in the basement under the house to leverage the constant temperatures that this subterranean space can provide.  We took the basement space out of the envelope and removed the foundation insulation once below grade to achieve a constant 50-55 deg temperature.  These passively-achieved temperatures are ideal for storing the vegetables and maintaining the highest level of freshness.  In addition, the large thermal mass of the foundation will help to balance the shock to the air temperature when newly-harvested vegetables come in from the field. 


Driven by the desire for an aesthetic similar to the area’s historic New England farmhouses, we used a compact two story main volume with a one story wraparound porch.  The south, east and west sides have open porches, creating a variety of outdoor rooms, and shade the main living spaces.  The north porch is enclosed as living space to house the mudroom, laundry, full bath and a first-floor bedroom which also will accommodate the farm office. The house is sited at the high point of the farm on the northernmost lot line.  This orientation opens the house to the views across the rolling fields and leverages the prevailing summer breeze for passive cooling. It also exposes the house and barn to the full southern sun for the renewable systems. The point source heating system eliminated the need for running ducts through the attic or basement, thus allowing the insulation and air barrier to be held tightly around the conditioned space and minimizing the conditioned interior volume. The 2x4 walls at 24” O.C. are packed with dense cellulose fill, providing R-13.3 for the cavity insulation.  The structural wall sheathing is “Zip System Wall Sheathing,” meticulously taped to act as the air barrier. Outside of the air barrier are two 1 ½” layers of polyisocyanurate foil faced foam with seams taped and staggered, resulting in R-19.6 for the continuous insulation.  The system places the condensation point well outside of the sheathing in this climate zone and allows for easy inspection of air sealing systems during construction.  Together, this wall system yields a value of R-32.9, but performs even better, due to the lack of any thermal bridging in the system and the multiple air sealing layers. The roof uses raised heel energy trusses.  Zip Wall sheathing is installed and taped on the chords of the truss prior to the installation of any of the interior partitions.  The exterior zip sheathing is taped to the ceiling zip sheathing over the plate of the exterior wall making a simple, uninterrupted and extremely durable air barrier.  All of the electrical and mechanical systems are kept inside of this air barrier except where few connections to the outside need to be made.  Because of the sturdy OSB substrate at the point of penetration, these few penetrations in the air barrier can be easily sealed using robust air-sealing techniques. These air-sealing techniques will have a leakage lower than 1 ACH50. The attic is then filled with 21” of loose fill cellulose insulation, achieving an R-80 rating. Thermal bridging is minimized by the use of light frame trusses. The 12” composite floor system over the basement is filled with open cell spray foam insulation covered by 1” foil faced polyisocyanurate with the seams taped.  This achieves R-45.6 cavity insulation plus R-6.5 continuous insulation.  It was decided to use open spray foam in this location due to the potentially high humidity levels in the working basement resulting from the vegetable cleaning and storage.  The Advantek floor sheathing is seated in a continuous-adhesive bead, to provide the primary air barrier in the floor system. All of the casement windows are new triple-glazed fiberglass units available through Marvin Integrity.  To increase the performance of the few double-hung units which are not available with tripane glazing, triple track aluminum storm windows are added.  The exterior doors are insulated core fiberglass providing an additional layer of protection.


The envelope performance and orientation have driven the loads of the house so low that we are able to use a point source heating and cooling system to deliver a very high efficiency to the project at an affordable price. A single high-efficiency hyper heat ductless mini split heat pump rated at 10.3 HSPF and 20.2 SEER is positioned within the main living area to heat the whole house. We are including a Panasonic Whispergreen 90 CFM DC variable speed bath fan located near the mini split head with the exhaust side ducted to deliver about 20 CFM to each of the remote bedrooms and farm office as an aid to equalizing the temperatures when doors are closed in these spaces.  We have included a very small sealed combustion wood-burning stove as an alternate heat source that can use wood harvested from the land, while assuring a high level of indoor air quality within the tight home. In the bathrooms, we have included a single Enerjoy electric radiant panel mounted to the ceiling, controlled by a manual timer switch, to assure user comfort when the bathrooms are in use. The domestic hot water will primarily be provided by the 160 gallon flat plate solar thermal system.  We have used a hybrid electric hot water heater as the backup source and located it in the basement which is outside of the building envelope. This location does not steal energy from the conditioned space and will further reduce the basement temperatures and humidity to support the vegetable storage.


The house employs a balanced Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) system.  The system pulls air from the remote bedrooms to generate a negative pressure to draw air from the central point source heating and cooling system.  The tempered supply air is returned over the point source heater to pressurize this space and condition incoming air. To avoid issues with moisture in the baths, we have used exhaust fans at each bathroom on touch timers to assure quick dissipation of the humidity caused by showers. We have also set up the operable windows and prevailing summer breezes to maximize the cross ventilation in the main living spaces.  The ceiling heights allow for ceiling fans in the bedrooms, main living spaces and screened porch to minimize the need for active cooling systems during the summer months. 


Conventional recessed cans with LED light trims are installed in locations that will not penetrate the air barrier, such as on the main level and in areas with drop ceilings.  Elsewhere, surface mounted fixtures with pancake boxes set inside of the air barrier are used. All fixtures can accommodate common LED bulbs including the LED under cabinet lighting in the kitchen. We took a very simple strategy to the lighting controls and light levels throughout the home.  The general light levels are comfortable for occupancy, but we rely on furniture and task lamps to achieve reading levels in the living room office and bedrooms.  In practice we feel this will reduce the watts per square foot used by the occupant. In order to fully leverage the onsite renewable energy opportunities, all major systems are designed to be electrically powered.  The 10 KW PV array is sized to provide all of the houses energy needs on an annual basis.  The array is grid tied and will use the utility to store the excess summer generation for winter heating, lighting and appliance loads.  Because of its rural location and thus the possibility of long-term power outages, the house is outfitted with a battery bank, separate off-grid inverter and transfer switch, to allow the house to operate on solar power when the grid power is down. A propane generator is set up to charge the batteries should the PV system not provide adequat recharging due to weather conditions 


The PV array is mounted on a detached barn building that provides car storage as well as overflow storage for farming equipment.  The roof is perfectly sized and oriented to hold a 10 kW array which will maximize production.

Website by: 505 Creative Services, Guilford CT  |  www.505Creative.com
© 2018 Connecticut Zero Energy Challenge, All Rights Reserved.  –  Admin