Annual Green Tour highlights energy efficient homes in Steamboat
Steamboat Springs — Engineer Scott Conner learned early in the process of designing his family home that to maximize energy efficiency and have pleasing architecture, there would need to be compromise.
Computer energy modeling helped determine the home’s design and orientation and resulted in significant energy cost savings, but came at the expense of fewer and smaller windows and other details originally desired, Conner said.
The end result is a home that uses only about 40 percent of the energy of an average comparable home, while still being architecturally pleasing to Conner and his wife.
“We really do enjoy the space, and it really does perform well,” said Conner, who moved in last August and has monitored the couple’s energy use somewhat obsessively since.
Conner’s home off Huckleberry Lane was one of three Steamboat homes toured Sunday as part of Yampa Valley Sustainability Council’s annual Green Building Tour.
Conner shared with tour attendees the level of detail that went into the design of the 2,100-square-foot home, which can use as little as 100 watts of energy when the fewest appliances and lights are functioning late at night.
Another newly constructed Steamboat home on the tour was the 2,100-square-foot home of LEED-accredited architect Adam Wright.
Wright’s Larimer St. home downtown uses a passive solar design and the owner is pursuing LEED for Homes Version 4 certification.
Notable features of the home include the relative absence of chemical products used during construction and infrastructure put in place to add a solar electric photovoltaic system in the future.
The final home included in the tour was an example of remodeling to increase energy efficiency in Old Town’s Hillcrest Apartments.
Attendees were able to see a redesigned apartment and view a next-door apartment without any renovations to the 1958 design, providing a before-and-after.
The energy-efficient upgrade was completed by custom home builder Bradley Bartels, of PureBuilt, preserving the visual integrity of architect Eugene Sternberg’s design, while updating the space to have a reoriented floor plan that moved the galley kitchen from the entrance and into the main living space.
“It made sense to bring the kitchen around the corner to have the views and the light,” Bartels said.
The remodel included exchanging appliances for energy efficiency, adding more operable windows to increase ventilation and the replacement of inefficient baseboard heaters, moves that help cut electric bills in half.
The tour was a fundraiser for YVSC’s Green Building program, which helps highlight opportunities and rebates, showcases sustainable projects and works to educate the public on energy efficient practices.
Sunday’s tour ended at the Routt County Justice Center, which has energy efficient features, including 165 solar panels on its roof and the use of a detailed energy use monitoring system.
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After several Steamboat Springs Transit drivers caught COVID-19 recently, the operation had to adjust its routes around New Year’s celebrations and The MusicFest at Steamboat, two of the city’s busiest weeks of the year.