NeoCon, the largest trade show of its kind in North America with 700 showrooms and exhibits to explore, wrapped up a couple of days ago in Chicago. The show featured some great sustainable design solutions, and Inhabitat has roundup of some of the highlights. Check out the best of NeoCon’s green offerings below.

Wool Clouds designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Kvadrat, available in North America through Haworth.

3Form Gecko tiles are applied with water and give a bright pop of color, as well as privacy, to existing glass installations.

Vienta Wall Tiles by Arktura are durable enough for use both inside and outside.

What do you think of these eco-friendly design innovations? How important is sustainable design to you? At Trilogy Partners, we build custom homes with an eye to sustainability as well as style. Contact us today and let us help you go green!

images via Inhabitat

We specialize in sustainable building at Trilogy Partners, and these days there are so many ways to create a completely custom home that is beautiful, functional, and eco-friendly. We encourage our clients to embrace sustainable design, and this year we are proud to build Breckinridge, Colorado’s first Zero Net Energy home! If you want to conserve energy and help the planet, check out these energy-saving tips from The Daily Green.

  • Water heaters are usually set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but most households don’t need to use that much steam. By turning your water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, you can save from 6-10% on your energy bill.
  • Storm doors and windows can increase the energy efficiency of your home by 45%.
  • Don’t pay for what you don’t use. In most households, 50-70% of energy expenditures go to heating and cooling, so when you leave the house, turn the thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter.
  • Make sure your home is well insulated. There are federal tax credits available for installing highly efficient insulation.
  • Choose a green building professional with experience in designing sustainable, energy-efficient homes.

If you are looking for a custom design-build firm to help you create a sustainable home, contact Trilogy Partners today!

photo via Flickr

Inhabitat reports that Steve Jobs has recently unveiled some rather unique plans for a new Apple campus. Jobs presented the plans at the Cupertino, California city council meeting, revealing designs for a “new clean energy spaceship-shaped campus.”

The design should allow Apple to fit more employees on their current plot of land, while also creating 350% more green space. The facility will have its own low-emissions power plant, and will only use grid power in case of a brownout. Parking will be located under the structure, and the company has hired an arborist to help select indigenous plants to add to the greenspace.

This is a really unique project, so it will be interesting to see more as the facility is constructed, assuming of course that the Cupertino city council approves the plans! Take a look at some images of the facility, below.

If you are interested in sustainable design and are looking for a world-class architecture firm to help you create a home that combines green convictions with personal style, contact our Colorado firm, Trilogy Partners, specializing in custom home design and construction.

images via Inhabitat

Solar panels have been big in the sustainable design and building industry for quite a while now, and this previously inaccessible technology has been getting more effective and affordable with every passing year.

According to Inhabitat, a Tokyo company called Smart Solar International has just developed an impressive new solar panel that “chases” the sun! These solar panels are made of aluminum mirror bars which rotate throughout the day to face the sun and absorb the optimal amount of energy. These new solar panels use much less silicon than previous models of photovoltaic cell panels, keeping costs down.

The article quotes Takashi Tomita, the head of the company, who says, “You can get both electricity and heat from the same device,” because the panel has an overheating safeguard that channels extra warmth and uses it to heat water. This is definitely exciting news for the sustainable building industry.

If you are looking for a custom home builder in the Colorado mountain region and want to embrace sustainable design practices, contact Trilogy Partners today!

photo via Inhabitat

Boiler Room with Geothermal Heat Exchange System

From earlier writings we described the environmental commitment of Breckenridge homeowner Kyle M. to build an 8,000 sq. ft. luxury zero energy home. We continue today with the inside story of this net zero home. This writing focuses on the renewable energy systems chosen including solar electric and geo-exchange, along with an integrated lighting and electronics program that dually functions as an energy management system. Once Ambient Energy produced the energy modeling for the 8,000 sq. ft. home, the engineering and building team went to work to choose materials that would conserve as much energy as possible. Step one: Design and build a tight well-insulated energy-efficient home. Step two: Incorporate renewable energy and smart-home control systems geared to energy conservation.

The environmental heating and cooling solutions for the Breckenridge Timber Trail home demonstrate a high degree of integration among experienced professionals not unlike the workings of a well trained sports team. This team’s goal: design and install an efficient geo exchange heating ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system to provide 100 percent of the home’s space heating needs with a natural gas boiler backing up system. First up to bat was Barry Engleman of George T. Sanders Companyof Silverthorne. George T. Sanders did the heat calculations for the home to determine how much radiant floor tubing was needed to keep the house warming properly even down to 20 degrees below zero. Engleman designed the layout and Tekmar control systems that control the radiant floor hydronic system. Next to bat was Eric Atcheson of E.W.A. Mechanical Inc. based in Silverthorne. E.W.A worked closely with Engleman, and was responsible for the home’s plumbing, heating, and automated Tekmar control systems. Following Engleman’s layout and his own expertise, Atcheson installed the plumbing system for domestic hot water production, radiant floor heat tubes to supply heating for the home, and the optional snowmelt system for the driveway. The house received two high efficiency boilers that integrate with the ground source heat pumps and ensure the home’s comfort on the coldest of Breckenridge nights. Our third and fourth batters were Jim Dexter from Summit Professionals of Silverthorne and Bob Major of Major Heating and Cooling in Wheat Ridge. The two companies managed the installation and integration of the ground source geo exchange heating and cooling system, heat pumps, air handling and humidification. Summit Professionals designed systems and duct work to provide a fresh supply of air to the home and comfortable environment. Dexter installed an integrated air handling, humidification and Energy Recovery Ventilator which gives the homeowner complete control over the indoor environment. The Breckenridge home receives 100 percent of its space heating and summer cooling from a geothermal heat pump system. Geo exchange uses the constant 50 to 55 degree temperature of the earth to warm the home when it is cold outside and to cool the home on hot days. Before excavation of the home, the geo exchange wells were drilled. Major Heating and Geothermal in conjunction with Can-America Drilling Inc., installs a closed loop system consisting of 19 boreholes, each 300 ft deep, around the foundation and under the driveway.

Solar PV System

Photovoltaic Panels

SolSource, Inc., a solar engineering and installation firm based in Denver, was engaged to design and install the solar photovoltaic system, through their partnership with Breckenridge-based Colorado Building Company.

The Making of Breckenridge’s First Custom Net Zero Home

Dave Lyskawa, Sol-Source VP of Residential Sales, met the homeowner’s goal of designing a solar electric system that provides 100 percent of the home’s electrical needs. For phase one, SolSource installed a 9.89 kW solar PV array. The solar energy installation consists of 43 SolarWorld 230-watt panels with black frames. SolarWorld modules are 100 percent manufactured in the U.S. The solar panels are connected to Enphase micro inverters and an Enphase energy management unit which provides 24/7 system monitoring. Enphase increased the energy production of the solar array by maximizing the energy generated by each individual solar panel. SolSource also selected Enphase to allow for system expandability and is pre-wiring the home for an additional 7 kW system in phase two. The energy produced by the 9.89 kW array prevents an estimated 29,907 pounds of C02 from entering the atmosphere every year.

Lighting and Energy Management Systems

A final component to creating Breckenridge’s first custom net zero home was integrated lighting, energy management, and whole house automation system. Players were Chad Ballard of Paradigm Systems, Inc. based in Denver using the Vantage Control system and Daniel Stern with Electronics by Design in Broomfield. All lighting fixtures installed were evaluated for functionality and energy efficiency. “We focus on correct color, intensity, dimming and usage of the lights required in a luxury residence, while ensuring that the house is performing at the minimum energy consumption,” said Ballard. The Vantage system was chosen for its ability to provide automated and remote control of the home’s lights, HVAC, shades, fans, audio/ video and home theater distribution systems, security through sensors, timers, keypads and energy consumption meters. Lights in high use rooms were programmed with occupancy sensors that turn on when some one enters the room at a set intensity and turn off when motion is no longer detected after a set time interval. This simple house-wide lighting/motion sensor system enables the homeowner to masterfully manage the home’s electricity usage and significantly conserve energy. This Breckenridge residence is likely the “smartest home” in town. If homeowner Kyle wants to, he can press a button on his cell phone as he is driving up to his mountain chateau and engage a “Welcome” mode. With one button the lights turn on, the blinds go up, the garage door opens, and music begins to play.

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