The Downtown Residence by Jon Anderson Architecture was designed and constructed following the LEED for Homes requirements. While we have worked at attaining LEED certification for several projects, we had not done so on a residence before. It was our goal, from the beginning, to design a residence that was not only aesthetically pleasing, but energy efficient. While we had some preconceived ideas as to how we wanted to make the residence energy efficient, the LEED for Homes checklist helped us to identify areas that we were lacking, or hadn’t thought to improve. Working with this checklist from the beginning, along with Green Insight, helped us to make sure that we would achieve the LEED for Homes standards in all aspects of the process.

Because we worked so diligently with our team, we were able to pursue an Innovation & Design Process (ID) credit. This credit acknowledges team’s efforts to design an energy efficient home from the beginning. Teams work with one another to determine things such as ideal orientation. Residences can be designed to be durable and long lasting from the beginning so that fewer repairs will be needed in the future.

The Historic Downtown Neighborhood of Albuquerque, where our site is located, was developed after the arrival of the Railroad in 1878. The Owner/Architect had lived in this neighborhood for 40 years. He owned an adjacent property that was designated “non-contributing” and it was he and his wife’s intention to demo this structure and build a new house for them to live in. An initial design of the house was rejected by the Historic Landmarks Commission, who oversees all construction in this area, for being “too modern” to fit-in. A second design was developed and approved that was based on the pre-dominant bungalow style of the neighborhood.

Because of the sites location within the city fabric, the owners were able to take advantage of the infrastructure and community resources. Restaurants, concert venues, art galleries, and many more features are just a short walk away. Public transit passes through the core of downtown, near the residence, and allows the owners to get around to various areas of the city without needing a vehicle. There are also several parks adjacent to the site. The owners are able to walk to a weekly grower’s market and enjoy the green space.

The site, as mentioned above, already had a residence built on it. But rather than trying to repair an old residence, the owners felt it was best to start over. This gave them the opportunity to pursue something new and modern, not only aesthetically, but from a performance standpoint. A super energy efficient home was a new concept to this neighborhood.

Due to the adjacencies and location of this infill site, the team was able to pursue “Locations & Linkages (LL)” credits from the LEED for Homes checklist. These credits area awarded to projects that are designed in locations that take advantage of existing infrastructure and community resources.

The site itself is fairly narrow at only 50 ft. wide. As the team began, they studied the existing conditions of site immensely. It was the team’s goal to have as little of an impact as possible on the site. Several, large and mature trees dotted the site along with other mature vegetation. The residence was designed so that a large expanse of the pitched roof would be oriented towards the south. This provided a perfect place to add a large solar array. However, in optimizing this southern exposure, a few of these mature trees were at risk of removal. Because of this, the residence was designed to wrap around a 100-year-old Austrian pine tree on the west side of the residence. Other large elm trees are present on site, on the North side of the residence, that were preserved. The landscaping that was added after construction was complete was designed to need little to no maintenance. No turf was added to the site. Other vegetation added was both noninvasive as well as drought tolerant. Non permeable paving was minimized so that water could be better managed on site. Because we were so diligent about preserving the existing conditions of the site, as well as developing the site in the ways we did, we were able to pursue “Sustainable Sites (SS)” credits from the LEED for Homes checklist. These credits, as mentioned, are awarded to projects that strive to maintain and create a site that is as energy and resource efficient as the residence on the site.

Our largest focus for the residence was to design several critical and key systems that not only make the residence more comfortable to live in, but greatly increase the efficiently of the residence. First, the south slope of the roof supports a 30 panel, photovoltaic array. This array, on a typical sunny Albuquerque day, generates 8.7 kW (14,998 kWh yearly). This system is enough to completely power the residence, as well as provide power to the grid. The roof that supports this PV array was designed and built as a vented double roof. The “first roof” is a sealed and insulated (with 2” of urethane spray foam) roof structure that functions independently of the “second roof”. This “second roof” is built directly on top of the first. The “second roof” is able to absorb all of the heat gain from the sun, and then vent this heat out directly, rather than allowing it to infiltrate into the residence. Also, this “second roof” was framed with a large enough overhang that the southern glazing is completely shaded during the summer and allows some heat gain in the winter. Other key design choices include the use of thermally broken aluminum storefront windows with 1” Solarban 70 glazing, continuous XPS rigid insulation along the exterior of the residence, low flow plumbing fixtures, 100% LED lighting, a water recirculation system with button at each sink, as well as the future addition of Tesla Powerwall Home Batteries. All of these features, along with our energy efficient heat pump system, resulted in the residence qualifying for LEED Platinum and achieving a HERS rating of 0. A HERS rating of 0 means that the residence achieves net zero energy usage. Our diligence in designing these systems allowed us to pursue “Energy & Atmosphere (EA)” credits from the LEED for Homes checklist.