Maine house captures heat -- and LEED Project of Year award

A net zero home in Belfast, Maine, is so well insulated and designed, its annual heating costs are only $300. Soon it'll be replicated throughout an eco-village.

According to the 2007 Maine Home Heating Report from the Maine Office of Energy Independence and Security, the average annual home heating cost* in that state is $1322.  But to heat the GO Home, a 1,500-square-foot home built by architecture and construction firm G•O Logic and located in Belfast, Maine, annual costs are expected to be just $300.

At the Greenbuild Conference and Expo in Toronto on Oct. 6., the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) declared the GO Home the 2011 Project of the Year.

The net zero, three-bedroom house is rated platinum on LEED's green building scale and it's also the first Passive House Institute-certified passive house home in Maine. Passive structures are virtually air-tight buildings that have such robust insulation systems (and minimum heat loss) that they are heated primarily by passive solar gain and by internal gains from people, electrical equipment, and other heat sources. Yep, even in Maine.

The designers were obsessive about capturing heat generated within the house -- even the heat and moisture generated by the kitchen stove and laundry machines are captured and used to control the interior climate. In fact, the heat requirements for the building are so minimal, that to keep the structure at 70 degrees, even in the deepest, coldest winter night, takes the heat output of a hair dryer, according to G•O Logic.

One might expect such a structure to have huge building costs, but its construction costs were close to that of a conventional home -- about $160 per square foot. And even for a small home, given its cold climate, the heating costs are impressively low.

The best news, perhaps, is that this home is the model for a 36-home co-housing development in Belfast, which is currently under construction.

[Via CasaSugar]

*for fuel oil or kerosene-heated homes

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com