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Passive Solar Home Design Conserves Energy, Exudes Style

Carol Richard of the Atlanta-based architecture firm Richard Wittschiebe Hand designed a in Madison, Wisconsin, which she calls her castle. Also known as Ross Street House, this modern sustainable architecture project was a collaborative effort with her mechanical engineer husband, Fred Berg, and was recognized as Wisconsin’s first LEED for Homes Platinum-rated residence in July 2009. Set in a neighborhood of post-war Cape-Cod-style homes peppered with some “modern” 1960s homes, this residence was actually designed to fit into its environment. Thus, the unobtrusive square shape (modeled on a box camera) and two-toned cedar siding and roof to make the house appear smaller than its 2,700 sq. ft. The wood-clad house is positioned to take in as much winter sun and summer shade as possible for passive cooling. The windows also naturally illuminate the open-concept living area, which is a bright and airy space of double-height proportions. Light and local maple and a white palette further create the illusion of more space. Three floors are connected by the open, industrial-style staircase. Additional eco-sustainable features include water conserving dual-flush toilets, low-flow faucets, a tankless water heater and a rain-water recycling system. VOC-free paint and adhesives limit chemical off-gassing. Topping off this cool eco house, the garage is topped with photovoltaic panels that cover more than half of the home’s energy requirements each year.
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photo credit: Zane Williams
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