Our Energy Load is Our Legacy

Every home is the physical expression of what home meant when it was first built. They take their shape, adopt their style, divide up their interiors in ways that made sense then. This includes their size, how much storage they might have, even how people came and went, by foot or by car.

The homes most of us know, certainly the ones we grew up in, were built for the world that was. And that world had little concern and only gave passing thought to the energy they required to maintain functions and provide comfort. The home was built, and a contractor asked a supplier to provide the mechanical systems necessary to keep things toasty. That system was sized to satisfy the homes thirst for energy, and we call that the building’s “load.”

carry So the size of the home and the way it was constructed establishes that load, and from that moment forward the owner is committed to carrying it. I think of that load like this suitcase. Here’s the load you will be carrying around as long as you live here. And when you sell the home, you hand that load to the next person and now they get to carry it.

The cost of that load might inspire them to lighten it some by adopting a new standard of comfort, like bundling up and turning down the thermostat. But the part that was baked in when the home was built remains fixed in place.

light packIf we were to instead consider that energy is precious and choose to design and build differently, we can trade in that big burden for a much lighter load. With that lighter load baked in, the next owners benefit, and so does our environment.

PH DemoJWWe achieve this performance by being miserly with the energy we use. When we want to keep something hot for a long time, we use a thermos. Well these homes employ the same strategy, with super insulation and air tightness and no thermal bridges we sustain the temperature we used energy to create for a long time, just like our thermos. As a result, we can use systems that use very little energy, the equivalent of a blow dryer or two.

And that’s not all. When we build this way we also experience levels of comfort, health, durability, and energy security that those homes built for the world as it was never imagined, and most of us have never experienced. In fact, we won’t need those sweatshirts at all.

Barefoot ComfortWhen we build we have a choice to leave this legacy: a lighter load and barefoot comfort – baked in!


A BLOG SAMPLER

A random sampling of past blog posts in the domains of discovery, design, craft, and performance



THE BLOG LIBRARY

The Tiny Test: Learning from Living in 165 SF

The Tiny Test: Learning from Living in 165 SF

I learned a lot from my night in a Tiny House. I know; that seems like hardly enough experience to form a reliable impression. Bear with me. My son Jesse likes to give experiences as gifts. Thus my wife Barbara and I just spent the night in a tiny house in the New...
Building for Affordability

Building for Affordability

What makes a building project “affordable?” Every design process begins by establishing goals and discovering boundaries. Goals are the problems we hope to solve. Boundaries are the constraints we expect to work within. Within each of these conditions is the...
The “Just Right” House

The “Just Right” House

Designing and Building “Just Right” for High Performance and Affordability We designed and are in the midst of building a new home in Cheshire that aims to achieve high performance and affordability by integrating today’s most advanced building practices with lessons...
Reduce Then Produce. Doing Solar Right.

Reduce Then Produce. Doing Solar Right.

ANSWER THE QUESTION When you contemplate getting the energy your home requires to provide comfort from the sun you learn pretty quickly just how precious that energy is. You come to this realization when you ask, “how much energy do I use?” It is that same...
The 5 Great Spaces Every Home Deserves

The 5 Great Spaces Every Home Deserves

YOU'RE INVITED Better Home. Better Life. Here’s the premise: I’ve spent more than four decades working with people in Greater Hartford and the Farmington Valley to make their good homes better. In that time I’ve come to recognize five recurring themes in that...
Welcome to Wolfworks 3.0

Welcome to Wolfworks 3.0

In 2009 the bottom fell out of the construction industry. We finished the projects we had and it was a full year before we were building again. During that time I had to come to terms with what remained. The answer was simple: Decades of experience designing and...
Design Build Guidance: Smart choices and common mistakes

Design Build Guidance: Smart choices and common mistakes

At our recent “Better Home: Better Life” Workshop we asked, “what does it take to make a good home great?” What unfolded was a look at the roadmap we rely on to answer that question. What it takes is a robust approach to what is broadly...
Better Home. Better Life.

Better Home. Better Life.

Our “Better Home. Better Life.” Workshops were created for anyone eager to learn what it takes to make a good home great. Here’s an overview with an opportunity to be notified of upcoming workshops and a bonus download taken from the workshop...
Did you miss it? We all learned a lot at the Net Zero Open House

Did you miss it? We all learned a lot at the Net Zero Open House

This past weekend about sixty people came out in the rain to see, touch, and feel how different a future friendly home is from the homes most of us live in. The grand prize winner’s of the 2013 CT Zero Energy Challenge opened their doors, led tours, and shared...

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