The Sun Gazing House, the first LEED Platinum Certification winner, complete with the most innovative eco-friendly designs, doesn’t look like what you might think of when you think of an “eco-friendly home.” This home feels full and light, with warmth and personality, not the small, drab home you might think of when considering a sustainable home. With recognition from many home design magazines, including Green Builder Magazine, EcoHome Magazine, and several other awards, this home is the definition of thoughtful and sustainable home design that still feels customized and luxurious.
What is a LEED Platinum Home
LEED Certification stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is the world’s most commonly used green building rating system. It’s a rubric for healthy, highly efficient buildings, helping guide home builders in their goal of building a more sustainable world. There are four levels of certification, and while any of these levels indicate a profound commitment to environmentally sound and sustainable building practices, the highest certification is the LEED Platinum Certification. Many home builders (not just in the sustainability industry) are looking for innovative ways to incorporate green building practices, but few will reach the highest certification of Platinum. This certification means that the building has earned 80+ points out of 100 possible points, indicating an above-and-beyond dedication to sustainability in homebuilding.
Features of “The Sun Gazing House”
Every detail of this home was carefully planned from the beginning, from how the home was situated on the lot to the types of motors in the ceiling fans.
Exteriors: Passive And Active Solar Design
In this home, every watt of energy is carefully calculated and used. Using the sun’s power to help reduce emissions and pollution was a huge goal for this home, and with ten solar panels on the back of the shed and deliberately planned window placement, this home gets 90% of its heat from passive solar.
Kitchen: Eco-Friendly Appliances
Energy-efficient appliances, water-saving taps and dishwasher, and eco-friendly lighting make this kitchen a warm, inviting space that embraces light and natural elements.
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Dining Room: Sustainable Design Considerations
The huge window in this beautiful dining room brings light and warmth to the home. Every detail of the home was carefully designed to utilize every watt of energy, and even the fans and lighting in the space were chosen because of their energy efficiency.
Living Room: Energy-Efficient Features
The home feels much larger than it actually is, and that is by design. The feeling of light, airy space is one of the reasons homes have continued to grow larger, but with sustainability in mind, we wanted the home to feel custom, large, and luxurious without increasing the square footage drastically. The living room, kitchen, and dining room are all connected, with a vast open staircase from the top to bottom floors, creating an open, expansive feeling.
Bathrooms: Water-Saving Fixtures And Designs
Low-flow showers and sinks in the stunning bathrooms of this home help conserve both water and energy. As the warm water drains during a shower, the heat is captured through a coil system, and the heat from the water is retained to be used again to heat more water.
Bedrooms: Comfort And Sustainability
With windows perfect for passive solar and sustainably sourced building and design materials, even bedrooms can be an area of the home where environmentally friendly choices are unseen but equally important.
Staircase: Innovative Design Elements
The staircase in this home goes from the top floor to the bottom floor and is used to help cool the home during hotter days. With an automatic window operator, the “tower” where the staircase is located provides ventilation and air cooling throughout the home.
Landscaping: Sustainable Landscaping Practices
While many practices are used in sustainable landscaping, one of the most unique is the concrete used. This concrete, while solid and long-lasting, will also allow water to seep through it to get to the ground below the concrete, ensuring water flow happens as naturally as possible.
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Achievements and Recognition
One of the most outstanding achievements of this home (among many) was being the first LEED Platinum home built in Utah. We’re thrilled that The Sun Gazing House was a pioneer in a state where innovation and industriousness are prized so highly. Among the other recognitions The Sun Gazing House has won are the Grand Award from Green Builder and the Project of the Year award from NAHB.
The home has also been featured in USA Today’s “The Week’s Green House” and as a feature in both the Breen Builder Magazine and the EcoHome Magazine. This project has the LEED Platinum certification, as well as meeting the standards for the Passive Haus Institute, NAHB Emerald, and Energy Star. The home is a shining example of teamwork creating a masterpiece, and without the contributions of Jean Yves Lacroix (designer) and Heliocentric Energy Engineers, it wouldn’t have been possible to achieve such a feat.
With so many innovative and thoughtful energy-efficient additions to this home, it’s hard to choose a single feature. From the beginning, every decision was made with sustainability in mind, from the site orientation to the plumbing fixtures. We used HRV technology (Heat Recovery Ventilation) that helps retain heat in the home. Every appliance and light fixture was picked because of their Energy Star rating, and we only added what was needed. The reflective roof keeps the home cool in the summer months, and the overhangs over windows, doors, and patios help reduce heat in the home as well.
Insulation played a huge role in the home’s efficiency, with 12.5” thick Premier SIPs wall and airtightness below 0.6 ACH at 50 Pascals (which is all to say, the home is insulated and airtight, ensuring heat stays inside in the winter and outside in the summer). Solar panels for active solar and huge windows for passive solar make this home a shining example of solar power use in a residence. The taps and showers in the home have heat recovery systems that trap the heat from the water in the drain to be reused to heat other water later. All of these features (and plenty more) were tested on 3-D models of the home and put in an environment similar to Park City to test how each feature functioned. Then, after dozens of tests, the final design was approved, and the home was built. Every detail, planned, tested, and implemented, created a stunning final product: The Sungazing House.
Customization Meets Ingenuity: The Sun Gazing House
The Sun Gazing House is a pioneer as Utah’s first LEED Platinum Certified home, and for good reason. With innovative designs and a light and open feeling, this space exudes customization meant to showcase the homeowner’s personality and the brilliance of the eco-friendly home design. With few examples at this level of luxury and sustainability, this home shines as a beacon for home builders worldwide, showing what is possible when ingenuity meets innovation. If you are ready to build your home in Park City and want the best custom eco-friendly home builders, contact our team at Tall Pines Construction. We’ll help you create a home you can feel proud to own with green, eco-friendly features.