Attendees on the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council’s annual Green Building Tour Sunday got to peek inside three homes with little in common other than their sustainable designs.
An under-construction home on Amethyst Drive is on its way to becoming Routt County’s first certified passive house under both American and European standards.
Passive houses are built according to rigorous standards, use very little energy and have a small environmental footprint.
Designer, builder and homeowner Florian Speier led attendees on a tour of the partially completed home, which will serve as a local residence showroom for Speier’s Zola European windows, which cover most of the home’s outside walls.
A series of 10-foot sliding windows across the home’s future living room each weigh about 1,000 pounds, and the home has an airtight envelope to preserve heat.
“We’re very airtight,” said Speier, who owns the home with his wife, Jessica Pfohl.
The Zola windows are designed in Steamboat Springs and manufactured in Poland and Germany before being shipped to the United States.
Looking outside Speier’s massive sliding picture windows, attendees could see another home on Sunday’s tour, Susan Crites’ ultra-modern, energy-efficient, three-story home, which uses passive house design.
Crites’ home was designed by Erik Lobeck, of workshopL, and built by Fair & Square Construction.
“We built up instead of out,” Lobeck said. “We wanted to rise above the neighboring houses and take in some of the views.”
The sunny home was built to be extremely energy efficient, with LED lighting and triple-pane windows, and it manages to fit many rooms into a compact 1,200-square-foot space.
“We managed to shove three bedrooms and two bathrooms into this house, and it manages to work pretty well,” Lobeck said.
The third home on Sunday’s tour was a resourceful remodel of a 1946 Old Town home.
Owners Eric and Samantha Rabesa completed the remodel themselves earlier this year as Rivertree Custom Builders, with architecture by Ian Wagner and support from Steamboat Engineering.
The home was expanded from one to two stories, plus a basement, which was remodeled.
The home uses passive solar design and reused building materials. For example, wood from the original kitchen floors was repurposed as outside decking.
Samantha Rabesa shared with tour attendees some of the challenges of remodeling an older home, including encountering walls that weren’t square.
“Everything was a little off,” Rabesa said.
The Rabesas used upgraded, weather-resistant Blueskin barrier to wrap the house, helping provide a water-tight seal.
The sold-out tour was well-attended by local builders, homeowners and other curious local residents.