The Sustainable Thomas Eco Home
A beautiful and highly sustainable home that requires a third of the cooling and half the heating of similar homes, the Thomas House, set on an 11 acre site in the Cascade foothills and overlooking Mt. Rainier and Everett City in Washington state is a perfect example of passive house design.
This comes partly simply from the cube-like shape, putting a compact four stories on a relatively smaller footprint. But the house, designed by Designs Northwest Architects, also boasts very high thermal insulation due to the construction with ICFs – two layers of rigid foam insulation into which concrete has been poured.
In addition, the use of lots of glass also contributes to the home’s energy efficiency. Warming the house in winter, and creating a solar chimney in hot weather, the glass rooms are not just beautiful but an intrinsic part of the design.
The house employs a variety of strategies that reduce its energy use; 33% lower for cooling, and 44% lower for heating. Most importantly, a geothermal heat exchange brings up temperate air in pipes from underground to cool the house in summer.
The temperature underground hardly varies from a constant 55 degrees, summer or winter, and the pipes running through the house are able to cool the house to nearly that even in 100 degree heat outside. This means in summer, the house needs much less cooling.
Likewise, in winter, it is much easier to heat a house from a starting point near 55 degrees, than starting from the frigid temperatures outside.
Materials selected are sustainable, low VOC, low maintenance materials like this flooring and durable steel banisters.
But it is not all practicality and sustainability. An amusing touch in the house is a firemans’ pole.
(But once the kids have grown up, it might look a little strange.)
One last element of sustainable design is less tangible, but important too: the house is solidly constructed. It has been built to last. That is about the epitome of sustainability.