Green Home of the year Awards

Energy Efficiency Award

Kreger Design Build

About this home
While our clients enthusiastically teamed up to achieve as sustainable a home as possible without subordinating traditional real estate values—views and traditional Santa Fe style—our primary intent was to achieve a high LEED certification. We accomplished this without passive solar that would have compromised the prized mountain views and would have significantly undermined the home’s market value.

We wanted this home to demonstrate that passive solar features, while desirable, are not mandatory in order to achieve a HERS 60 or less. The conservation strategies that we employed are mostly the “lowest hanging fruit on the tree.” To accomplish a HERS 60 or less before installing active solar applications, we integrated a HERS rater from the start of the design process, achieved Energy Star with an indoor air package by superinsulating and airtightening the shell, employed thermal bypass mitigation strategies, installed a Viessmann 95 percent efficient condensing gas boiler, and used a simple low-cost solution for whole-house indoor air quality: ceiling fans with constant negative air pressure balanced by passive air inlets.

Our clients, incentivized by the New Mexico sustainable building tax credit, then decided to integrate substantial renewable energy input with Viessmann solar thermal collectors, driving the HERS rating down into the mid-40s—a seamless addition to the already specified Viessmann radiant heating system. Then they added 3 kW of PV collectors to drive the HERS rating down to the mid-teens (near-zero energy). Other core strategies included installing 100 percent rooftop rainwater collection into a 5,000-gallon cistern for drip irrigation, separating gray and black water under the slab for future recycling back to the toilets, and using a 100 percent compact fluorescent lighting package. Inconspicuous consumption distinguishes this home—a simple, sober, attainable solution.

Lot Design, Preparation, Development, and Environmental Responsibility
At the beginning, we fenced off undisturbed areas with steel wire, very efficiently protecting delicate existing terrain. We positioned the house layout for minimal tree removal. At the end, we seeded-mulched all disturbances with Dryland Grass mix (all indigenous). By the end of August, the site was almost completely revegetated.

Use of Materials and Resource Efficiency
Framing efficiencies included utilization of local products where possible and recycling building scrap lumber.

Energy Efficiency
We installed 100 percent compact fluorescent fixtures and reached a HERS 58 without passive or active solar, just using conservation strategies. We introduced active solar thermal (six collectors) and drove the HERS rating to the mid-40s. Then we added 3 kW of PV collectors to drive the HERS rating to 15.

Water Efficiency
We collect 100 percent of the roof rainwater to a 5,000-gallon cistern and separate gray from black water, making gray water accessible for future reuse to toilets. Gray water supply lines run to toilets with dedicated shutoffs. A potable hot-water-on-demand recirculation system was installed to reduce water loss and heat loss. Low-flow faucets and dual-flush low-flow toilets were used. The home has minimal landscaping, utilizing natural and/or xeritropic vegetation.

Indoor Environmental Quality
We installed a simple passive IAQ system for ASHRAE 62.2: two Panasonic two-speed fans (30 cfm minimum continuous) with motion sensors for boosted spot ventilation, each with time delays. To balance this negative pressure, we installed four Panasonic passive air inlets throughout the house.

Operation, Maintenance, and Homeowner Education
This home has a very large three-ring binder of instructions for all equipment and appliances for the house. Individual training was provided by product personnel on the use of the energy-related equipment. The homeowners were involved in all aspects of design and choices from the beginning. Most of the ideas originally came from the owners.

Environmental Impact
This home adheres to Build Green New Mexico and LEED for Homes criteria, and effort was made to design an affordable house and reduce the overall carbon footprint as much as possible.