Our Earth Homes are 100% solar-powered and designed for healthy living. We want you and your family to thrive in an all-natural, healthy home with no utility bills and the security of never losing power.
- Super-insulated walls, floors, and roof
- Air-tight construction
- High-performance windows
- Geothermal heat pump
- LED lighting
- Energy Star appliances
- 100% solar (photovoltaic) power
- 2 to 3 day battery back-up
- Solar electric car charger
- Whole house security system
- Video doorbell
- Battery back-up power
- Grid-independent and self-reliant
- Real-time energy monitoring and control so you can manage your energy consumption
- Non-toxic, natural materials, paint, and finishes (low or zero VOCs)
- Continuous fresh air ventilation (ERV)
- Water filtration
Our approach is somewhat unique in that each home is custom designed to fit the needs of our clients and we consider the energy impact of every decision we make. Being intentional in our design decisions in relation to energy efficiency throughout the design process allows us to build net zero energy homes. Our mission is to build the most comfortable, healthy, efficient and environmentally responsible homes possible.
SUSTAINABLE ENERGY SYSTEM
- Resilience. The home will be able to function with or without the grid connection. All critical functions of the building will be able to continue in case of a grid power failure.
- Solar power system. The solar power system will be sized to provide 100% of the home’s annual electricity needs. The home is connected to the grid and the solar system is interactive with the grid. If the solar energy system generates more electricity than the house can use, excess solar energy is sold back to the utility company.
- Battery system. At a minimum, the home will have a battery system that will have the capacity to power the critical loads in the home for 3 days. A separate critical loads panel will be powered by the solar energy system. The critical loads typically include refrigerators, freezers, well pumps, igniters on the gas appliances, basic lighting, and basic communications systems. Heating, water heating, and cooking may be considered a critical load if gas is not available.
- Backup heating, hot water, and cooking. An all-electric home will require a very large solar system and batteries sized to meet the desired backup level. If natural gas or propane gas is available, backup heating, hot water, and cooking can be provided by gas. Gas and wood can also be considered as a backup system, significantly reduces the solar energy system and battery size.
- Electric car charging system. This allows the solar system to charge up to two electric vehicles.
ENERGY EFFICIENT BUILDING ENVELOPE
- Wall, roof, and floor insulation levels that minimize the energy load of the building in the most cost-effective manner. Typical levels are R-25 for walls and floors and R-50 for the roof. Higher levels can be used if they are determined cost-effective in context of the whole house energy design.
- Windows are selected based on their insulating value (U Value) and their solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC). Windows facing south have a high SHGC and a low U value. The south windows maximize the solar heat gain in the winter to heat the building during a sunny day. A shading device is needed to shade the south windows in the summer to prevent overheating. Windows are also selected for their airtightness and durability. No vinyl windows are used. The envelope is air-tight to prevent uncontrolled air infiltration.
RAIN WATER MANAGEMENT
- Storm water will remain on the site. Gutters and downspouts on the house will drain to dry wells and rain gardens to allow the rain water to drain into the aquifer on-site and minimize runoff.
- Porous surfaces will be used for driveways and patios, rain water may be collected for household use and irrigation. Local regulations will determine allowable uses for rainwater.
HEALTHY INDOOR ENVIRONMENT
- Material selections as free as possible of toxic materials such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). Materials of concern are paints and adhesives, cabinetry, carpet, and padding.
- Well vented combustion systems. To avoid combustion by-products entering the indoor air space. Combustion systems should have sealed combustion or a dedicated outside air source for combustion air. Systems of concern include water heater, furnace, fireplace, and cooking systems.
- Whole house ventilation that provides a dedicated fresh air source for the home. The system is an Energy Recovery Ventilation system (ERV). The air exchange is done through a heat exchanger that transfers the heat or cooling from the outgoing air to the incoming air to temper it close to the indoor air temperature.
- Maintain relative humidity levels to minimize the growth of mold and mildew and to maintain comfort. This is controlled with the ERV and waterproofing systems that eliminate the risk of water leakage in the foundation or from the roof.
- Air filtration to minimize the dust and particulates in the air with a HEPA filter system. UV light systems can be used to minimize airborne bacteria.
- Water filtration to remove unwanted bacteria, chemicals, and particulates from the drinking water system. A two-filter system consists of a particulate filter followed by a carbon filter.
- Zoned heating and cooling system for good comfort control, as well as air-tight building envelope to minimize drafts and infiltration of outside air pollutants.
- Windows and skylights. Are designed to provide ample sunlight to the majority of the home. In the winter, it will be direct sun and in the summer, it will be in direct sunlight from a shaded source.
ENERGY EFFICIENT APPLIANCES
- Lighting will be LED selected to provide the required light level. Color rendition index (CRI), and color temperature for the application.
- Appliances will all be the most efficient within the EPA Energy Star rating.
- The heating and cooling system will be selected based on the most efficient and cost-effective for the loads of the home. Systems typically include 95% efficient gas furnace and water heater, geothermal heat pump, air-source heat pump, and high-efficiency ductless heat pump.