2016 Challenge Participant:

Lehto Design/Build - Vendetta/Bankowski Residence

Applicants: Steven Vendetta, Judy Bankowski

Project Address: 30 Shore Road, Clinton, CT 06413

Bdrms./Sq. Footage: TBD

Builder Website: www.lehtodesignbuild.com

Project Overview Project Specifications Project Team Project Photos
The Lehto Design/Build - Vendetta/Bankowski Residence project in Clinton, CT.

General Project Overview: (General Description of Project)

As empty nesters, Judy Bankowski and Steve Vendetta have a strong desire to stay in the state and live near the shoreline. They also have a strong desire to have a home that is both energy efficient and has the look of a stately beach house where family and friends are always invited. The owners fell in love will a unique property that contained an existing 1952 ranch style home nestled on a knoll 27 feet above sea level. The house has stunning tidal marsh and Long Island Sound views. The owners will transform the existing ranch to a two story gambrel styled home which will contain 3,650 square feet of conditioned space. The design utilizes 90% of the existing footprint and features fully contained first floor living with entertaining and guest space on the second floor. In order to build the most cost effective net zero home, Steve and Judy chose the builder, Nick Lehto of Lehto Design and Build, to work with them and their architect, Joe Bergin of Essex, from the preliminary design phase. This enabled them to strike the proper balance between energy efficiency and build cost, while respecting the character of the home. The coastal build requirements also created challenges to maintain that balance. Judy and Steve feel the result will be a comfortable, elegant, high performance home that has a timeless appearance.  

Orientation and Envelope: (Windows, Insulation, Framing)

  • Since the home utilizes the foundation of the existing home, we were unable to adjust its orientation to maximize solar exposure.  Luckily, the long axis of the house faces South-East, which still allows it to take advantage of passive solar gains. 
  • Walls:  R35- 2x6 walls with dense pack cellulose, with Sip panel fastened to the exterior.  Due to size constraints of the existing foundation and the customers desire to maximize interior space, extra insulation was placed on the exterior of the house rather than the interior.
  • Roof:  R-70 : 20” Loose Fill Cellulose
  • Foundation:  R-26 : 2” Closed cell foam with fiberglass batts
  • Slab: R-13 :  2” Closed Cell foam over existing slab.  Due to headroom constraints in the basement, insulation thickness was limited in this area.
  • Windows: Due to the homes location along the shoreline, utilizing impact rated glass was necessary.  Finding windows with triple pane glazing, that also offered an impact rating proved to be quite difficult.  This, along with the homeowners desire to maintain a traditional coastal new England look, led them to decide on a traditional double hung window with double pane impact glazing.  While you would typically seek triple pane glazing in a high performance home, due to the unique set of parameters, this package struck the best balance between cost effectiveness and aesthetics.

Heating, Cooling, and Hot Water:

  • High-efficiency Mitsubushi ducted air-source heat pumps will provide both heating and cooling.  Electric radiant mat will also be installed in the master bath to provide supplemental heating.
  • A high efficiency heat pump water heater will be used. 


  • This home will utilize a high efficiency Venmar ERV, which will simultaneously remove stale air from the house, and supply fresh filtered air.

Electrical and Appliances:

  • To minimize the energy demands, all lighting will either be LED or CFL. 
  • All appliances will also be ENERGY STAR® rated.


  • A 12Kw Photovoltaic system will be placed on the carriage shed garage that is located on the property.  By placing the solar panels on the garage, we were able to maximize the systems size, while also placing them out of view.

Resources Sustainability Features:

  • Rather than completely demolishing the existing structure, many of its features were kept intact.  This includes the foundation, floor system, masonry walls, and the fireplace to name a few. 
  • The large arch top window was also recovered from a crumbling garage on the property and placed on the front façade.  Since this window is only single pane, it was placed in the attic in the unconditioned space.   
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