2010 Challenge Participant:

Consulting Engineering Services

Applicants: George Keithan, Nicholas Fair

Project Address: Killingworth, CT

Bdrms./Sq. Footage: 4 BD - 4,539 sq ft

Builder Website: www.cesct.com

Project Overview Project Specifications Project Team Project Photos
The Consulting Engineering Services project in Killingworth, CT.

The initial concept was conceived to build a classic New England home, in a farm setting, with today's modern systems and conveniences, all wrapped up into a home requiring Zero Energy. The goal of "a standard" home with high quality design was a must. The owner, engineer and architect also wanted this house to be a learning tool for the trades, community and students. The owner has already had students and tradesman visit the site to learn how to achieve these standards on other projects. The project, known as the Keithan Residence, is a 3,600 square foot single family home with a detached garage and barn located in Killingworth, CT. Besides this Challenge, this project is also being tested to meet USGBC's LEED for Homes highest rating of Platinum. The energy efficient measures that are being taken are listed below in the following categories:

Building Envelope -

  • The house has been sited within a few degrees of true south, to maximize solar gain in the heating season. Trees on the south/western side of the house have been retained to provide western sun shading during the summer months, in the afternoon hours. Porches have been designed on the East and Western sides to reduce solar heat gain in the morning and afternoon during the summer months. The screen porch, screen doors and a west to east orientation have been designed to allow for the prevailing winds to be used to cool the house in the summer.
  • ENERGY STAR®, triple pane windows, with a U=.25 are being installed throughout the house. Minimal glazing has been installed on the North side of the house, equaling approx 1.5% of the total floor area. The east and west exposures have approximately 2.0% of net floor area glazing. The southern exposure has 7% glazing area of the total floor area for maximum passive solar gain without overheating or adding thermal mass. The south exposure has large sunscreens and overhangs to minimize the heat gain in the summer and maximize solar heat gain in the winter.
  • Walls are being constructed with advanced framing techniques, 10" thick double offset studs and spray in foam for a total of R-42 above grade. The exterior walls have a 1" foam board to minimize thermal bridging.
  • Air infiltration is being minimized with taped and glued structural sheathing, and 1" XPS taped foam board on the outside. All plywood joints, sill plates, and wood on wood will be sealed with construction adhesive to reduce infiltration.
  • The basement is part of the conditioned space, and has two layers of 2" exterior XPS insulation and 5.5" of interior spray foam for a total R-38 wall. The sub slab has 4" of XPS foam for an insulation value of R-20.
  • The roof system is 16" thick, with 14" of spray insulation and 2" of XPS foam boards for a total of R-62.
  • The attic is within the building envelope, and all mechanical systems are within the building envelope to mitigate air conditioning system leakage concerns and wasted energy.

Heating and A/C -

  • This project is using a water to water standing column geothermal well and heat pump with a well temperature monitoring control system to maximize efficiency. The geothermal well is also being utilized for the domestic water well so that well water temperatures can be optimized for the highest geothermal COP's.
  • Custom low temperature air handlers, with low pressure coils and ductwork, will be installed to minimize the amount of required energy for space temperatures and maximize energy savings in motor efficiency. The air handlers use only 95° F water, which will operate on both the geothermal water loop and the solar hot water panel water. This low temperature operation will maximize the effectiveness of the solar water system to heat the home.
  • A 940 gallon, super insulated water storage tank will be installed in the basement to store the solar hot water which is being harvested during the day. This tank will have multiple coils to supply both the domestic water tank and heating system.
  • An energy recovery ventilator, selected for the lowest watts/cfm, is being used for continuous ventilation and exhaust.
  • A whole house fan is being installed for cooling during cooler summer days, to reduce energy consumption. Mechanical cooling will be accomplished with the geothermal heat pump, but should be required only on the hottest days of the year due to the shading, prevailing wind design and the whole house fan.
  • Radiant floors are being installed in the basement's concrete floor, the first floor and second floor bathrooms. The radiant floor is using the low temperature solar thermal panels for heating the water. We will be using this added mass to store energy during the day and release it at night. If solar water is not available, the geothermal heat pump will automatically take over to supply heat to the floors.

Electrical -

  • All appliances are ENERGY STAR® rated
  • All lighting is fluorescent or LED
  • Lighting is being controlled with a whole-house lighting control system with an all-off feature and occupancy sensors in low use rooms (mechanical rooms, storage).
  • The barn has been constructed "true south" for the installation of the solar PV arrays. A 13.65 kW system is being installed on its south facing roof. Capacity of the system has been designed in accordance with RemRate™ and HERs ratings for a net zero outcome.
  • There is additional capacity in the solar PV system to charge a future electric plug in car. We have estimated that 3 to 4 kW will be required.

Plumbing -

  • There are 10 drain back solar hot water collectors on the roof. The solar drain back tanks are located in the attic to reduce the pumping head, thus increasing the overall electrical efficiency of the system.
  • The plumbing is being installed with a hot water recirculation pump, and minimal piping runs, with timers and aquastats. This will reduce water waste, waiting for hot water, and reduce the operation of the well water pump, again reducing electrical power needs.
  • All hot water and cold piping is being insulated with R-4 insulation.
  • Domestic hot water is being supplied by a solar hot water system, with a dedicated 120 gallon storage tank in the basement.
  • A waste water heat recovery system is being installed to pre-heat the cold supply water to the hot water tank. This system uses the waste water from the showers.
  • Low-flow water fixtures are being installed throughout the home.

Site and Special Items -

  • This was an existing home site (the home was torn down by the previous owner), with a poor quality wooded site. Approximately 10 years ago, the site was logged for the premier wood species and in the process the area was "pillaged". The logging company destroyed most of the remaining trees, left the "undesirable" trees everywhere and left the lot in a complete mess. We have cleaned up the site, had the dead fall removed and sent off for processing into landscaping wood chips.
  • We will be having a working farm. We will have a small poultry farm (less than 50 chickens), a large vegetable garden and farm stand, a Christmas tree farm and fruit trees. We hope to be fully organic and be more net zero in our food consumption as well as energy.
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