Launch Slideshow

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The Nest Cottage

The Nest Cottage

  • Name: Nest Cottage at Serenbe, Chattahoochee Hills, Ga.Size: 1,100 square feetConstruction Cost: $200 per square foot Completed: July 2010Certifications: EarthCraft House Platinum; Energy Star; Building America demonstration houseHERS Rating: 32Builder: Martin-Dodson Homes, Douglasville, Ga.Designer: Lew Oliver Inc., Roswell, Ga.Interiors: Serenbe Interior Studio, Chattahoochee Hills

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    Name: Nest Cottage at Serenbe, Chattahoochee Hills, Ga.Size: 1,100 square feetConstruction Cost: $200 per square foot Completed: July 2010Certifications: EarthCraft House Platinum; Energy Star; Building America demonstration houseHERS Rating: 32Builder: Martin-Dodson Homes, Douglasville, Ga.Designer: Lew Oliver Inc., Roswell, Ga.Interiors: Serenbe Interior Studio, Chattahoochee Hills

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    Chris Hamilton Photography

    Name: Nest Cottage at Serenbe, Chattahoochee Hills, Ga.
    Size: 1,100 square feet Construction Cost: $200 per square foot
    Completed: July 2010
    Certifications: EarthCraft House Platinum; Energy Star; Building America demonstration house
    HERS Rating: 32
    Builder: Martin-Dodson Homes, Douglasville, Ga.
    Designer: Lew Oliver Inc., Roswell, Ga.
    Interiors: Serenbe Interior Studio, Chattahoochee Hills

  • Smooth-finish, fiber-cement HardiePlank lap siding from James Hardie delivers a durable cladding that achieves up to R-0.51 per inch and is engineered to specific climate conditions. The siding is available with proprietary factory finishes that resist prolonged freezing climate conditions, moisture contact, and UV exposure to deliver up to 30% more fade resistance and last up to twice as long as field-applied finishes, says the maker. 888.542.7343. www.jameshardie.com. The EnviroDri system from Tremco Barrier Solutions delivers a permeable brush- or spray-applied asphalt-based membrane over the exterior OSB sheathing for a joint- and fastener-free weather barrier. The membrane mitigates air and liquid moisture transfer through the walls to maintain a tight thermal envelope but vents moisture vapor to guard against latent damage behind the exterior finishes. A perm rating of 12 is comparable to most housewraps. It fully cures in less than one hour. 800.876.5624. www.tremcobarriersolutions.com.

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    Smooth-finish, fiber-cement HardiePlank lap siding from James Hardie delivers a durable cladding that achieves up to R-0.51 per inch and is engineered to specific climate conditions. The siding is available with proprietary factory finishes that resist prolonged freezing climate conditions, moisture contact, and UV exposure to deliver up to 30% more fade resistance and last up to twice as long as field-applied finishes, says the maker. 888.542.7343. www.jameshardie.com. The EnviroDri system from Tremco Barrier Solutions delivers a permeable brush- or spray-applied asphalt-based membrane over the exterior OSB sheathing for a joint- and fastener-free weather barrier. The membrane mitigates air and liquid moisture transfer through the walls to maintain a tight thermal envelope but vents moisture vapor to guard against latent damage behind the exterior finishes. A perm rating of 12 is comparable to most housewraps. It fully cures in less than one hour. 800.876.5624. www.tremcobarriersolutions.com.

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    John Neas

    SIDING
    Smooth-finish, fiber-cement HardiePlank lap siding from James Hardie delivers a durable cladding that achieves up to R-0.51 per inch and is engineered to specific climate conditions. The siding is available with proprietary factory finishes that resist prolonged freezing climate conditions, moisture contact, and UV exposure to deliver up to 30% more fade resistance and last up to twice as long as field-applied finishes, says the maker. 888.542.7343. www.jameshardie.com.  

    WEATHER BARRIER
    The EnviroDri system from Tremco Barrier Solutions delivers a permeable brush- or spray-applied asphalt-based membrane over the exterior OSB sheathing for a joint- and fastener-free weather barrier. The membrane mitigates air and liquid moisture transfer through the walls to maintain a tight thermal envelope but vents moisture vapor to guard against latent damage behind the exterior finishes. A perm rating of 12 is comparable to most housewraps. It fully cures in less than one hour. 800.876.5624. www.tremcobarriersolutions.com.

  • The Envision series water-source heat pump system from WaterFurnace is a closed-loop system that transfers the constant (about 50 degrees F) temperature of a nearby lake via a glycol medium to a forced-air heat pump, requiring less energy to meet heating, cooling, and domestic hot water demands. The Energy Starqualified series uses R410A refrigerant and offers a cooling efficiency of up to 30 EER. No outside compressor saves space and reduces noise pollution. 800.436.7283. www.waterfurnace.com.

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    The Envision series water-source heat pump system from WaterFurnace is a closed-loop system that transfers the constant (about 50 degrees F) temperature of a nearby lake via a glycol medium to a forced-air heat pump, requiring less energy to meet heating, cooling, and domestic hot water demands. The Energy Starqualified series uses R410A refrigerant and offers a cooling efficiency of up to 30 EER. No outside compressor saves space and reduces noise pollution. 800.436.7283. www.waterfurnace.com.

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    Chris Hamilton Photography

    HVAC
    The Envision series water-source heat pump system from WaterFurnace is a closed-loop system that transfers the constant (about 50 degrees F) temperature of a nearby lake via a glycol medium to a forced-air heat pump, requiring less energy to meet heating, cooling, and domestic hot water demands. The Energy Starqualified series uses R410A refrigerant and offers a cooling efficiency of up to 30 EER. No outside compressor saves space and reduces noise pollution. 800.436.7283. www.waterfurnace.com.

  • CertainTeed 9555 vinyl double-hung windows from MI Windows and Doors feature 7/8-inch insulated glass with low-E to boost thermal resistance values; optional argon gas fill is also available. The units are Energy Star labeled with a minimum 0.60 U-value and 0.27 SHGC for southern climate zones. 888.417.1162. www.miwd.com. FLOORINGThe Navarrre collection from U.S. Floors offers engineered oak planks from FSC-certified timber sources with a proprietary Natural-E oil finish. The Toulouse line features a rustic look with 71/2-inch-wide planks and can be glued, nailed, or floated at, below, or above grade. The series also complies with CARB Phase 1 formaldehyde emissions requirements. 800.404.2675. www.usfloorsllc.com. KitchenAid appliances include an Energy Starlabeled dishwasher and bottom-mount refrigerator. The full-size dishwasher (model KUDC20FVSS) is rated to use 4.0 gallons per cycle (Energy Star baseline is 5.8) and 313 kWh per year; the 18.5-cubic-foot Architect II series refrigerator (model KBRS19) is verified to be 20% more energy efficient than the minimum federal standard. 800.422.1230. www.kitchenaid.com.

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    CertainTeed 9555 vinyl double-hung windows from MI Windows and Doors feature 7/8-inch insulated glass with low-E to boost thermal resistance values; optional argon gas fill is also available. The units are Energy Star labeled with a minimum 0.60 U-value and 0.27 SHGC for southern climate zones. 888.417.1162. www.miwd.com. FLOORINGThe Navarrre collection from U.S. Floors offers engineered oak planks from FSC-certified timber sources with a proprietary Natural-E oil finish. The Toulouse line features a rustic look with 71/2-inch-wide planks and can be glued, nailed, or floated at, below, or above grade. The series also complies with CARB Phase 1 formaldehyde emissions requirements. 800.404.2675. www.usfloorsllc.com. KitchenAid appliances include an Energy Starlabeled dishwasher and bottom-mount refrigerator. The full-size dishwasher (model KUDC20FVSS) is rated to use 4.0 gallons per cycle (Energy Star baseline is 5.8) and 313 kWh per year; the 18.5-cubic-foot Architect II series refrigerator (model KBRS19) is verified to be 20% more energy efficient than the minimum federal standard. 800.422.1230. www.kitchenaid.com.

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    John Neas

    WINDOWS
    CertainTeed 9555 vinyl double-hung windows from MI Windows and Doors feature 7/8-inch insulated glass with low-E to boost thermal resistance values; optional argon gas fill is also available. The units are Energy Star labeled with a minimum 0.60 U-value and 0.27 SHGC for southern climate zones. 888.417.1162. www.miwd.com. 

    FLOORING

    The Navarrre collection from U.S. Floors offers engineered oak planks from FSC-certified timber sources with a proprietary Natural-E oil finish. The Toulouse line features a rustic look with 71/2-inch-wide planks and can be glued, nailed, or floated at, below, or above grade. The series also complies with CARB Phase 1 formaldehyde emissions requirements. 800.404.2675. www.usfloorsllc.com.

    APPLIANCES
    KitchenAid appliances include an Energy Starlabeled dishwasher and bottom-mount refrigerator. The full-size dishwasher (model KUDC20FVSS) is rated to use 4.0 gallons per cycle (Energy Star baseline is 5.8) and 313 kWh per year; the 18.5-cubic-foot Architect II series refrigerator (model KBRS19) is verified to be 20% more energy efficient than the minimum federal standard. 800.422.1230. www.kitchenaid.com.

  • Sherwin-Williams Harmony no-VOC acrylic latex interior paint delivers high-hide coverage with low odor and no off-gassing to promote healthier indoor air, says the manufacturer, while an antimicrobial additive inhibits mildew growth. The Greenguard-certified paint is available in flat, eggshell, and semi-gloss, and it covers up to 400 square feet per gallon. 800.474.3794. www.sherwin-williams.com.   FIREPLACEThe Sovereign series wood-burning fireplace from Majestic offers an optional forced-air fan for supplemental room heat and gas knockouts to enable a sealed combustion appliance, if desired. It is available in 36- and 42-inch opening widths in both radiant and heat-circulating models. The interior features all refractory brick to provide a realistic masonry look and a black steel mesh firescreen molded in for durability. 800.867.0454. www.majesticproducts.com.

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    Sherwin-Williams Harmony no-VOC acrylic latex interior paint delivers high-hide coverage with low odor and no off-gassing to promote healthier indoor air, says the manufacturer, while an antimicrobial additive inhibits mildew growth. The Greenguard-certified paint is available in flat, eggshell, and semi-gloss, and it covers up to 400 square feet per gallon. 800.474.3794. www.sherwin-williams.com. FIREPLACEThe Sovereign series wood-burning fireplace from Majestic offers an optional forced-air fan for supplemental room heat and gas knockouts to enable a sealed combustion appliance, if desired. It is available in 36- and 42-inch opening widths in both radiant and heat-circulating models. The interior features all refractory brick to provide a realistic masonry look and a black steel mesh firescreen molded in for durability. 800.867.0454. www.majesticproducts.com.

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    John Neas

    PAINT
    Sherwin-Williams Harmony no-VOC acrylic latex interior paint delivers high-hide coverage with low odor and no off-gassing to promote healthier indoor air, says the manufacturer, while an antimicrobial additive inhibits mildew growth. The Greenguard-certified paint is available in flat, eggshell, and semi-gloss, and it covers up to 400 square feet per gallon. 800.474.3794. www.sherwin-williams.com.

    FIREPLACE
    The Sovereign series wood-burning fireplace from Majestic offers an optional forced-air fan for supplemental room heat and gas knockouts to enable a sealed combustion appliance, if desired. It is available in 36- and 42-inch opening widths in both radiant and heat-circulating models. The interior features all refractory brick to provide a realistic masonry look and a black steel mesh firescreen molded in for durability. 800.867.0454. www.majesticproducts.com.

  • A 3-kW array from SunPower enables the potential for net-zero electricity use. The 215 (peak watts per panel) series panels achieve 17.3% panel efficiency to deliver up to 50% more electricity per unit, says the manufacturer, translating to fewer panels and lower costs to achieve a desired capacity. The Nest setup also includes a monitoring kiosk for visitors and the homeowners to view solar energy production in real time. 408.240.5500. http://us.sunpowercorp.com.

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    A 3-kW array from SunPower enables the potential for net-zero electricity use. The 215 (peak watts per panel) series panels achieve 17.3% panel efficiency to deliver up to 50% more electricity per unit, says the manufacturer, translating to fewer panels and lower costs to achieve a desired capacity. The Nest setup also includes a monitoring kiosk for visitors and the homeowners to view solar energy production in real time. 408.240.5500. http://us.sunpowercorp.com.

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    Chris Hamilton Photography

    PHOTOVOTAICS
    A 3-kW array from SunPower enables the potential for net-zero electricity use. The 215 (peak watts per panel) series panels achieve 17.3% panel efficiency to deliver up to 50% more electricity per unit, says the manufacturer, translating to fewer panels and lower costs to achieve a desired capacity. The Nest setup also includes a monitoring kiosk for visitors and the homeowners to view solar energy production in real time. 408.240.5500. http://us.sunpowercorp.com.

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    Chris Hamilton

High-quality finishes, namely lighting fixtures and an FSC-certified plank wood floor common across the entire first level, add to the overall appeal. “If it feels like 1,600 square feet, you’ve succeeded,” he says.

Integrating a checklist of green building methods and materials was far less challenging, if equally impressive.

Leveraging the region’s EarthCraft House New Homes program, Oliver and builder Martin-Dodson Homes raised the bar by involving the Atlanta-based Southface Energy Institute and the federal Building America Consortium’s Builder’s Challenge, a program that is driving toward a critical mass of net-zero-energy homes by 2030.

To that end, the Nest Cottage is properly oriented to the sun and designed for passive solar gain, daylight, and natural ventilation to reduce the energy load on mechanical equipment—primarily, a right-sized, closed-loop geothermal heat pump that taps the constant temperature of a nearby lake.

Structurally, the cottage features 2x6 wall framing filled and air-sealed with full-cavity Icynene open-cell foam insulation. A rubber-polymer coating akin to a below-grade waterproofing membrane replaced traditional housewrap as a more effective air and water barrier behind a durable and prefinished fiber-cement lap siding. Those measures helped the home score a HERS index of 32, one of the best in EarthCraft history.

With a tight thermal shell in place, the project team then specified Energy Star–labeled appliances and lighting, no-VOC paint, and a wood-burning fireplace that provides fan-driven supplemental heat on chilly nights but otherwise effectively blocks air transfer into and out of the house.

Outside, “night-sky” lighting fixtures block uplighting to preserve stargazing opportunities, reduce light pollution, and save additional energy, while native (and some fruit-bearing) landscaping will be irrigated by an on-site greywater reclamation system to reduce water use.

Integrated measures to reduce the home’s electrical load enabled a 14-panel, 3-kW array of solar electric panels to offset almost all of the grid-supplied power and earn utility credits toward a possible net-zero annual balance. All told, the little house should achieve an 80% reduction in overall energy use compared to the current Building America benchmark, cost between $200 and $450 a year to heat and cool (depending mostly on lifestyle behaviors and local utility and energy buy-back rates), and become the highest-rated EarthCraft House ever built—a standard that the remaining cottages are anticipated to match.

For all of its attributes, however, the Nest Cottage almost didn’t make it to Serenbe.