Connecticut Home Boasts Integrated Solar, Green Building

Connecticut Home Boasts Integrated Solar, Green Building
October 7, 2016 SNH Editorial Team
Integrated Solar Home

Aerial drone photography courtesy of Videler Photography.

Tucked away in Westport, Connecticut, this house was originally a 1910 farmhouse before undergoing a major renovation to enlarge it for a growing family and bring it up to date with state-of-the-art materials and equipment. The house is home to architect and solar consultant John Rountree and his family.  He designed the house to be a showcase of green materials, energy efficient construction and cutting edge solar technologies.

One of the main features of the house is the “Synergy Roof” which is manufactured by Schuco Solar. It is one of the first residential BIPV (building-integrated photovoltaics) systems in the United States to combine photovoltaics, solar water heating and a heat-recovery system. The system includes a 5.4 kW PV system with (17) 320-watt PV modules and (3) flat plate solar hot water collectors. The PV modules and hot water panels are the same size (approx. 4”x 5’ x 7’) and use the same aluminum frame. They are “flashed” together to form a continuous weather-tight surface, allowing them to serve as the roof as well. The roof construction was designed to allow the panels to be recessed and to appear flush to the roof in apperance .

Solar panels are installed into an inset created in the roof, this allows the panels to more seamlessly integrate into the architecture, as opposed to sitting on top of the roof.

Solar panels are installed into an inset created in the roof, this allows the panels to more seamlessly integrate into the architecture, as opposed to sitting on top of the roof.

The heat recovery system was designed by Mr. Rountree to control air movement below the panels using a series of ducts, dampers and fans. In the winter months, air, from the house is circulated under the panels where it is heated and brought back into the house, thus reducing the heating loads. In the summer, outside air is brought in to cool the panels and is then exhausted to the outside. The cooling of the PV panels increases their energy production by about 10%.

Overall, the energy generated by the system offsets roughly 80% of the Rountree’s annual energy use.

Some of the other features of the house are:

  • Energy Star-rating
  • Bamboo floors throughout
  • High-efficiency European wood-burning stove with bake oven.
  • Carrier high-efficiency “hybrid-air”gas/electric heating and cooling system
  • Closed cell high density foam insulation (R – 6.5/inch)
  • Recycled cotton insulation
  • Pella low-e windows
  • LED lighting
  • Energy Star appliances

Even The Garage Goes Green

In 2013, Mr. Rountree designed a 1-car garage to compliment the house architecturally. It features a 2kW roof integrated PV system using semi-transparent modules by Sanyo Solar. This BIPV system feeds power to a hybrid inverter with a battery back-up system which supplies power to the house in a grid failure.