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Home in the Woods
Environs of Marshfield, Wisconsin, USA

This new home was for a couple whose children are grown but still return for frequent family get-togethers. Energy efficiency was an important goal for the owners. The heavily wooded site precluded a full passive solar design treatment, so we emphasized a strong energy-conservation strategy. With the well-built and well-insulated building ‘envelope’ and it’s energy-conserving HVAC system, this house earned a very respectable Energy-Star rating of 91 (per the original HERS scale).

Above: Sited in a second-growth plantation of conifer trees, the design takes advantage of pleasing views along cleared allees.

A geothermal system, installed to heat and cool both the house and the domestic hot water, works very well in the sandy, moist Central Wisconsin woodlands. The all-electric system avoids the need for - and cost of - a large onsite propane tank.

Foam insulation sheathing was placed at the interior of the wall instead of exterior, as is conventional. This caps off heat loss through the wood studs while avoiding the moisture trap which is all too common in conventional construction and can lead to mold and mildew problems. The foam is non-ozone-depleting expanded - not extruded - polystyrene.