The ENERGY-EFFICIENT WINNER in the 2015 Howies is Plan 902-1, by Confluence Architecture. It's a 1,928 sq. ft. cabin that draws architectural inspiration from the agricultural and mining ruins of rural Colorado.
The jury admired the passive solar design where every inch counts. The very efficient, almost square
footprint means a tight envelope for high insulation. The simple sloping roof planes are positioned to maximize area for thermal and photovoltaic solar panels. The architects modeled the layout of the main living space after an alpine ski hut, with a wood stove centrally located between the kitchen and the living-dining area.
The design takes living in a colder climate like Colorado seriously, with windows designed to capture as much energy as possible from the sun in winter, while preventing overheating in the summer, and a mechanical room that is centrally located for shorter distribution runs and for keeping the waste heat within the house. According to the architects this design could easily be used for an off-grid application.
This house was designed for a lot sloping downhill to the access at approximately 30%. It has been planned to have a walk-out door on all three levels. Ideally the slope would be west facing so the primary glazing is south facing. The stairs are positioned to make a future addition easy and to buffer living spaces from the cold north side.