Focused on High Performance: An Interview with Jeff St Pierre of Energy Efficient Homes

At BrightBuilt, we are lucky to get a chance to work with many different builders based across New England and beyond. We love building these relationships, and getting to know each outfit well enough to determine who might have the most impressive tool collection, who might have the cutest shop dogs, or who would be most likely to win in a local potato sack race (and of course practical things, like who would be the best fit for a given client).

May 16, 2024

The BrightBuilt Team is Growing: Welcoming Michael Howland

We are excited to welcome a new member to our BrightBuilt Home team of designers and high-performance fanatics. Meet Michael, who joins us in the Construction Liaison role, bringing along his mastery in the building construction industry, a flair for crafting exquisite custom furniture, and a keen eye for photography! As a way to get to know her better, and to introduce him to our BrightBuilt family, we thought we’d ask Michael some of our signature pointed questions.

May 3, 2024

Powering Up: Understanding Net-Zero Energy Homes

In recent years, sustainability has evolved from a niche concern to a global imperative. As we confront the challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, the need for innovative solutions becomes increasingly urgent. BrightBuilt Home has long championed what we believe to be the superheroes of the housing realm: net-zero energy (NZE) homes. These cutting-edge residences blend tech smarts with environmental savvy to create homes that are as eco-friendly as they are stylish. But what exactly does "net-zero energy" mean, and why are net-zero ready homes so crucial in our quest for a more sustainable future?

April 19, 2024

The Ventilation Showdown: ERV, HRV, and CERV - Decoded

In today's modern world, the significance of healthy air quality and energy efficiency cannot be overstated. Beyond mere comfort, they are pivotal elements for maintaining both physical well-being and environmental sustainability. Healthy air quality ensures that indoor environments are free from pollutants and allergens, safeguarding respiratory health and overall vitality. Moreover, prioritizing energy efficiency not only reduces utility costs but also minimizes carbon emissions, contributing to a cleaner, greener planet. By fostering clean air and energy-efficient practices within homes, individuals experience a profound enhancement in their health and happiness. Breathing clean air promotes better sleep, boosts cognitive function, and reduces the risk of respiratory illnesses, ultimately fostering a sense of well-being.

April 5, 2024

Spring Cleaning in your High-performance Home

We can’t believe it, but spring is right around the corner! Dirty snow litters the ground, bare trees shiver, and you can’t leave the house without being properly insulated. But little green plants will soon begin to poke up through the soil and the birds are singing earlier in the morning. The prospect of spring feels more real. You know what else comes with the transition to this season? That’s right - spring cleaning. We’ve compiled a few tips for you to think about as you tackle some projects in your high-performance home over the next couple of months.

March 22, 2024

Jesse Thompson Joins the AIA College of Fellows

Together with our sister company, Kaplan Thompson Architects, we are proud to announce that the 2024 Jury of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has elevated Principal Jesse Thompson, FAIA, LEED AP, CPHC to its prestigious College of Fellows!

March 11, 2024

Making Your Kitchen the Star of Your Home’s High Performance

The season of frenzied cooking and colossal meals is fast approaching - can your kitchen keep up? High performance home design considers the efficiency and functionality of every detail, including the layout and outfitting of the rooms we use most. A well-designed kitchen improves not only the aesthetics of the space, but also its comfort and usability. To everyone who has ever dealt with a sink too small to wash pans in, or had to banish a partner from the room so there would be enough space to open the oven door; we see you, and would never do you dirty like that.

March 6, 2024

Choose Your Own Adventure: Custom design in the BrightBuilt world

When you walk down the baking aisle at your local grocer, it can feel like a “Choose Your Own Adventure.” Maybe you love having freshly baked scones, but the last time you tried to make them from scratch, you put in salt when it should have been sugar. Good news for you, there are plenty of pre-mixed recipes that can get you started, if baking from scratch turns out to not really be your forte. You can, after all, still make them yours. Want them to be hot pink? You can do that! Maybe you’d like to use sustainably harvested, organic sugar? That’s an option! Or perhaps your grandmother’s lemon glaze can’t be beat and you’d like to incorporate that into the recipe. You can always put your own spin on the base, and you can rest easy knowing that the pre-mixed ingredients are a perfect blend to get you started.

January 12, 2024

Tips to avoid a holiday hosting fiasco - Your BrightBuilt home has your back!

The holidays are upon us, and next week’s centers around food. And family! (But mostly food.) If you are living in a BrightBuilt Home chances are everyone thinks it is super beautiful and so began dropping very subtle hints months ago about how “It would be so lovely to have Thanksgiving in the extra warm and sunny house this year” and “I suppose if we do it at my house again, I’ll have to make everyone sit in the cellar since our dining room isn’t open concept…” Fast forward to Thanksgiving week and you’re starting to figure out how the heck to graciously host 15 people in your home. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of BrightBuilt Home features that ensures last-minute horrors won't happen. (We all remember the disaster of ’04 when Aunt Helen’s cocker spaniels ate the turkey right out of the oven…)

November 17, 2023

The Top 3 Financial Incentives For You to Build Green Now

For many homeowners, the decision whether to build a high-performance home is a financial one. If you have to make the decision between installing solar panels or getting a few more of the amenities on your wish list, it can be a difficult choice to make. However, if you look at your home as the long-term investment that it is, building green just makes sense.

August 25, 2023

How to Set up a Home Office You Didn’t Know You Had

It’s possible that working from home has been your modus operandi for some time now. Others may be recent converts because of our current world circumstances. Either way, we’ve collected a few ideas to make a home office productive and comfortable, and have some tips for how you may adapt it to a high-performance home.

July 14, 2023

Building Dreams on Screen

The world of architectural design is exciting, rewarding, and filled with creative people adept at finding solutions. So when we were approached by the team behind HGTV’s Celebrity IOU, we had a feeling that although we had no idea what to expect, we would be up for the challenge!

May 30, 2023

The BrightBuilt Team Continues to Grow: Introducing Alex Morin

We are delighted to welcome Alex to the BrightBuilt Home team, where he will be bringing his expertise in client communications and account management to the Project Pilot role. As a way to get to know him better, and to introduce him to our BrightBuilt family, we thought we'd ask Alex some of our signature pointed questions.

March 24, 2023

Can We Finish That for You? Tile Insights from our Interior Designer

When designing the interior of a new home, selecting tile plays a key role in the functionality and overall feel of the space. Here are a few things to consider and tips from our interior designer!

March 10, 2023

Can We Finish That for You? Finishes Insights from our Interior Designer

When designing the interior of a new home, lighting selections play a key role in the overall feel of the space. Here are a few tips from our interior designer to help you find the light (so to speak)!

December 2, 2022

Is Your Backyard Ready? Prepare Your Property for an ADU

If you’ve been following our blog and newsletters for a while, you’re probably fairly familiar with the concept of the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). So, let’s say you’re interested in the potential they could bring to your property. What happens next? To help simplify your fact-finding process we’ve put together a few key things to have in place to prepare for the addition of an ADU.

June 3, 2022

What's it Like to Work with BrightBuilt Home? Part 2 of an Inside Look into the Full Design Journey

In order to shed some light on the design process of a BrightBuilt Home, we will be featuring a series of snapshots focusing on the experience from a client's perspective.

January 27, 2022

What's it Like to Work with BrightBuilt Home? An Inside Look into the Full Design Journey

In order to shed some light on the design process of a BrightBuilt Home, we will be featuring a series of snapshots focusing on the experience from a client's perspective.

December 16, 2021

7 Ways a Sidekick Can Save the Day

Not all heroes have Sidekicks, but those who do tend to have it a little easier. These allies take the daily, domestic stressors off a hero’s shoulders, so they can focus on other noble pursuits. Sidekicks protect their partner from elemental perils, keep the bad guys at bay or lock them away, and even harness the power of the sun to fuel various super gadgets. BrightBuilt Home has an entire fleet of Sidekicks to help you on your next mission, whether it be fighting crime or keeping a houseplant alive.

March 12, 2021

What's a Green Home Worth? Financing a BrightBuilt Home, Part III

You have your team together, and now it’s time to go to bat. So it’s important to know the rules of the game. This boils down to one document: the appraisal. In evaluating a green home, the appraisal process aims to acknowledge the long-term value of your home. When the value is appropriately recognized by the appraiser, lenders will grant a higher sum to finance a green home’s construction, acknowledging that the long-term safety net of predictable (or no) monthly costs is far superior to that of the average home. Assigning value, though, is complicated by the fact that not all high-performance homes are equal and that few of them exist for setting the standards in this data-driven numbers game.

December 30, 2020

Farm to Table(saw) : Those who build BrightBuilts have many talents - from farming to framing, they do it all!

With the Common Ground Fair going full digital force this weekend, we wanted to introduce you to one of BrightBuilt Home's builders who also just so happens to be an organic farmer! Meet John Roscoe, of Roscoe Builders, who is based in Sullivan, Maine, where he splits his time between construction zones on MDI and the farmstead on the mainland. I mean.... can we have baby goats on ALL of our job sites, please? Check out what John has to say…

September 25, 2020

The Crew that Sets us up for Success

Meet the owner of Maker Construction, Ryan MacEachern (top photo), and his crew. They're the team of individuals that take a module off of it's flatbed and set it securely on to a foundation. More than that, they are a bit nerdy and they pay attention to the details; they know how important that air barrier is and ensure that the house is fully "buttoned up" at the end of a set day. Their work is a key component in making modular happen; they work swiftly and with ease, but their job of securing 30,000 lbs while it hangs in the air (among many other things) is anything but easy. It takes talent, planning, and attention to detail. They have recently set a BrightBuilt Drisko, Perkins, Cushing, and 2 Frenchboros. We thought we'd throw a few questions Ryan's way, so that you can get a taste for the team behind this part of the process.

August 14, 2020

What's In A Number? Part III: The "Extras"

Today we complete our 3-part series on building costs – what to expect, and what to include, as you weigh what you want to build and what your budget should be – and whether those numbers from other vendors are truly apples-to-apples. If you’ve been following along with our last few blog posts (or newsletters), you’ve glimpsed some clues to what’s hidden in the costs behind door number 1 (site) and door number 2 (house) already. To close out the series, we will explore what hides behind door number 3: the costs of those seemingly elusive “extras”…

July 31, 2020

What's In A Number? Part I: Site Costs

Today we launch a 3-part series on building costs* – what to expect, and what to include, as you weigh what you want to build and what your budget should be – and whether those numbers from other vendors are truly apples-to-apples. Without a doubt, one of the hardest questions to answer in the architecture and construction world is: “How much will it cost?” Invariably, and with good reason, the answer is: “It depends!”

July 3, 2020

Building a BrightBuilt Home

Meet Colin Lindberg, builder of our most recent Jewell. He is owner of Shelterwood Construction, a general contractor out of Moretown, Vermont. He and his team completed this Jewell in 2018. Colin was gracious enough to answer our burning questions, and show off his fun-loving and hard working ethos, for all to enjoy.

July 2, 2020

Office Space: A BrightBuilt homeowner talks about WFH in a BBH

WIth so many of us working from home these days, we wanted to reach out to some of our BrightBuilt Homeowners who have home offices, and see if they could share some snippets on their WFH experiences. Cristos and Emma completed their Mackworth in South Portland a few years ago, not long before welcoming the arrival of their adorable toddler. As he has been working from home during our current times, Cristos had some great insights on what it's been like for him.

June 19, 2020

What's In a Number? Part II: The House

Today we continue our 3-part series on building costs – what to expect, and what to include, as you weigh what you want to build and what your budget should be – and whether those numbers from other vendors are truly apples-to-apples. While we explored the mysteries of site costs in our last newsletter (and on our blog, read it here), this time we're diving into the good stuff: the house itself.

June 17, 2020

5 Questions to Ask when selecting a builder for your high-performance Home

Building a new home is a big deal, and when you make such a major investment, you want to feel confident that the people performing the work are doing it right. As with any other types of products or services, builder quality can vary significantly, especially if you are building a high-performance home. How do you know if you’re choosing the right builder for your new home? Ask these important questions.

May 22, 2020

From the Ground Up. Excited Homeowners Reflect on The Design Process and Look Forward to Moving In.

Our latest Little Diamond is coming together nicely, getting some final finishing touches (by the team at Island Carpentry) as it gets comfortable on its new site on the Kennebec River. The homeowners, Mike and Pattee, have been so excited to see their dream come together, so we asked if they might answer some questions, and share some reflections on their process to date (and perhaps a dose or two of that contagious, much-needed-right-now enthusiasm!).

May 8, 2020

Ask the Expert | A Q&A on air exchange with a local expert

The air exchange system: The system in our homes that perhaps remains the biggest mystery to new homeowners. We throw the acronyms ERV and HRV around as though they're as universally understood as PB&J or LOL, but to many, the notion of active, pre-filtered fresh air exchange in your home is at odds with most homeowners' experience with the drafty New England farmhouse (which our homes, of course, are not). To help shed some light on what these systems are and what they do, we tapped local expert, Kurt Johnson, of Fresh Air Ventilation in Lewiston, Maine. He offers some great insights, tips, and clear explanations on these critical systems.

April 24, 2020

Clients and Project Coordinator look back on what makes for a great project

1.) Do you remember the moment that you decided you wanted a BrightBuilt home? What lead you to that decision? J&L: Joe knew early on that looking at energy efficient/green technologies in our next home was the way to go. Our millennial kids where pushing us to shrink our carbon footprint at the same time that we were looking to downsize. Every thing came together when we met with J.

March 27, 2020

Design Feature: The Torrey

Bigger isn’t always better, and the Torrey is evidence to back that up. Maybe you are ready for downsizing into your forever home, aging next to your children, or putting up a small structure at your family camp. Whatever is it, we’ve got a Torrey for it. The Torrey shows you how it’s possible to live in a smaller footprint while still having the comfort and amenities you may have experienced in larger homes. Besides, it’s dang cute!

March 12, 2020

The Cushy Cushin' - What's not to love.

For those of you from Maine, you might recognize Cushing as one of the islands off Portland in Casco Bay. Locals call it “Cushin’” which makes us think of “cushy,” which is an adjective that is defined as “undemanding, easy, or secure.” This is a perfect definition for the BrightBuilt Cushing. Narrower than our other designs at 24” wide, it manages to pack a big, precise punch. This house is great for narrow lots and if you are looking for first floor living, but with additional space to spread out when needed. The Cushing accurately replicates a farmhouse with a full second story. As designed, it is an incredibly efficient and comfortable space. Size: 1,975 sq ft Bedrooms: 3+ Bathrooms: 2.5

January 31, 2020

Spotlight on the Director: A quick convo with she who shall not be named...

...Just kidding. Her name is Parlin Meyer, and she's been part of the BrightBuilt squad since back when the origin story was still being written. Our office-everything-extraordinaire, Rachel, took a few minutes to sit down with Parlin for a fun and informal Q&A.

January 3, 2020

Breathe In | Breathe Out

High-performance homes are not only energy efficient, they also allow for "rooms to breathe" When someone says “air pollution,” is the picture that comes to mind cars spewing exhaust? Maybe smoke billowing out of a factory? Or is it smog hanging above a city? In all of these scenarios, the air pollution is outside, but recently more research has been done to understand what air pollution looks like inside. And it doesn’t look good.

May 17, 2019

Features from our Latest Photo Shoot

We've been having some fun with drone photography lately, and are gaining an entirely new perspective on our designs and net-zero in general. We thought it would be fun to share some of these recent bird's eye views (and of course some pretty shots of the interiors, too!).

March 15, 2019

Ask BrightBuilt

This week's question was fielded by our founder, principal, and architect extraordinaire, Phil Kaplan... "I sell new construction, and am seeing homes that are steeply increasing in price due to rising costs in materials. Since BrightBuilt is made in a controlled environment, does this help offset some of these increases?" -B. Morrison, New Hampshire

February 1, 2019

New Year, New Designs

We're celebrating the new year by delivering you new designs! First up, we've converted one of our custom designs into a standard offering... Meet the new kid on the block, the Modern Farmhouse.

January 4, 2019

A BrightBuilt Home for (Almost) Every Apocalypse

Though we live in an increasingly polarized society, one of the few things that we can all agree on is that the world is becoming more and more perilous, our prospects are unsteady, and the future is impossible to predict. Between the real or imagined threats of climate change, nuclear war, and zombies, it’s sometimes difficult to see past the parade of horrifying news stories, devastating storms, and overzealous Second Coming preachers that batter us with their end-of- days prophecies. We don’t have to agree on how or when the world will end, but let’s be honest – we’re all wondering how we’ll get through it.

April 1, 2018

5 Reasons to Consider An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) on Your Property

A lot has been written lately about the rise of intergenerational households. In this country it is commonly presented as a growing problem, as it is caused at least in part by reduced retirement security and adult children who wait longer to leave the nest than in the past. As much of the rest of the world has demonstrated, however, there are plenty of reasons why it makes good sense to combine households. If you are in a position to join households with your in-laws, you will likely find that everyone benefits from the arrangement.

March 16, 2018

Custom Living takes Zero Energy

Every so often, we like to check in with homeowners with whom we’ve worked. Tim and Kathryn were wonderful collaborators, and we’re delighted to share some of their insights into the process of designing a BrightBuilt Home, and their thoughts about living in the custom spaces they worked with us to create. As veterans of the “building a new home” realm, they also offered some helpful perspectives on the process of new construction in general. Read on to see what they had to say!

The Great Diamond: The coastal, iconic barn

The Great Diamond, with a 28x32’ footprint, is designed to fit on a small lot without sacrificing interior space. Reminiscent of Maine’s iconic barns, the Great Diamond blends comfortable spaces with an efficient form. Size: 1,800 – 2,400 square feet Bedrooms: 3 - 5 Bathrooms: 2.5 – 3.5 Number of finished floors: 2-4

Five Years Spent in the Future: A laidback interview with BrightBuilt Dwellers

Marian and Alex Starkey live in a BrightBuilt Great Diamond, finished in 2015. We checked in with them to see how life is going in their now-not-quite-so-new home! Read on to hear about their animals, paint colors, advice they have for the building process, and more.

BrightBuilt Home Open House In Knox, Maine

This particular home is a custom cape, not too dissimilar from our Drisko or Frenchboro designs, and full of hand-crafted interior finishwork and historically accurate details (for the era that it evokes, that is!). Paired with BrightBuilt Home's high-performance systems, this home is the perfect marriage of past and future.

Searching for the Right Site? Class is in Session!

How to choose a site for your high-performance home: 101 Welcome to your first day at BrightBuilt Academy! We’re so glad you are here learning with us. Today’s lesson is going to be about how to choose a new site for your BrightBuilt home.

A Day Outside Our Natural “Habitat”

For the past three years, we’ve taken a day out of our regular work schedule to show up at the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland build site in Scarborough, where eight of thirteen homes are part of the Habitat program. These homes are designated for people who have a need for safe, affordable housing and have applied to be a Habitat homeowner. Once approved, Habitat homeowners partner with the organization throughout the process by helping with the building process and enrolling in home ownership classes. For most people, it isn’t only about having a stable and secure structure to protect them, but also represents a step toward building generational wealth.

Pump Pump It Up : How do Air Source Heat Pumps stack up against other systems?

Imagine a world where you can heat (and cool) your home without a “furnace”. Seems too good to be true, right? It’s not! There is a huge list of systems to choose from when it comes to heating your home. When you start to consider the various factors such as heating requirements, cost, and energy efficiency, we understand why you may feel overwhelmed by these decisions. To make any educated decision about something as important as your home, it should be well researched. Getting it wrong can cost a lot of money and cause headaches. We are here to share our knowledge and help inform your decisions towards heating your home furnace- and fossil fuel-free with an air source heat pump.

Cooking Up Indoor Air Pollution?

A few weeks ago, we discussed indoor air quality in high performance homes in our blog post, Breathe In, Breathe Out. We identified many of the indoor air pollutants that are prevalent in our homes, and now we want to address one of the most common (but very preventable) pollutants of them all: Cooking!

Pre-fab-ulous: Why Pre-fab is just better!

Have you heard about the guy who comes to your house after you’ve purchased a car and builds it in your driveway? We haven’t either. Because it never happens. We know cars are built on assembly lines in factories, and that assures us of consistency, quality, and pricing that is known at the outset of our purchase. So why don’t we apply the same thought process to houses as well?

Cumberland, Maine Open House on June 23rd from 1-4 pm

Foxbird gets it all on one floor with an open-plan living-dining-kitchen plus large walk-in pantry, mudroom entry, 3 large bedrooms including a master suite, plus a cozy office and same floor laundry. Indeed, empty-nesters and ranch-lovers gravitate toward this design that makes the best use of an efficient layout, and offers a substantial amount of added square footage for any family seeking to expand into a daylight or walkout basement, which is great ‘bang-for-your-buck” space that nearly doubles the size of the home.

What's In A Name?

It’s a mobile home! No, it’s manufactured! Wait, is it modular? Mobile, manufactured, and modular tend to be used interchangeably when talking about pre-fabricated houses (that is to say, homes that are built off-site in a factory and then transported and set on their location). And two of them actually can be used to describe the same sort of house, while the third term is different.

Next Open House - May 19th! Come see this stunning work-in-progress!

With expansive views out to the gorgeous surroundings, the first floor features an open concept living-dining-kitchen, mudroom and powder room, and a cozy away room for quiet movie nights. Upstairs, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and a laundry room make for both good living and good functionality. With the addition of a partially finished basement, there will be much to explore, and many ways to envision different options for a possible future version of your own BrightBuilt Home!

More on the Frenchboro

We rolled out our new Frenchboro design a few weeks ago, and we were thrilled to see a very enthusiastic response. Some follow-up questions are answered below!

Ask BrightBuilt

Do you have one level houses? - Janis G.Thank you for this great question, Janis! We do indeed have 3 designs that are specifically one level, and another 4 that are primarily geared toward single-level living, with ground floor master suites. Some examples of these designs are shown in the images above, and to learn more about each of them, you may see more images and download plans via the links below.

Rolling out our NEW Ranch!

The Frenchboro has arrived. We've had numerous inquiries for a smaller 3 BR, 2 bath home, and well...we hear ya! We've been working hard to maximize on efficiency and affordability, while keeping the design fresh and contemporary.

Subzero temps? No problem.

A frigid February day and the snow was creakingly cold, but it was not a challenge for the crew! Modules arrived, were set and connected by the end of the day. That crane, by the way, was about 2 inches from the top of a concrete footing, now that's skillful parking!

Looking to Build? The time is now!

The number of building permits issued post-recession has grown steadily nationwide, according to a recent article in Maine Biz. It’s not often that retirees and Millennials necessarily find themselves on common ground, but these two groups are working together to drive this trend. What does this mean for you, a forward-thinking person wanting to build a net-zero home? Open your planner, your smart phone calendar, or just grab a sharpie and write “START PLANNING OUR NEW HOME NOW!”


Every year, we mark our calendars for a few key events that we make the most of with our in-house creative genius(es). This year, Adrienne (always up to something) and Ben (our new volunteer-in-chief) led the charge to pull together the annual Halloween ridiculousness. Everyone of course was willing to oblige.

A Custom Fit: Design Feature, the BrightBuilt Custom Home

The home featured above was designed for a couple who sought to build an energy-efficient "forever home" that was befitting their interests, their routines, and their desire to comfortably host family and friends visiting the area.

Fa- Er..Ahem...Autumn is Here! (Because we don't like to say "Fall" when houses are in the air!)

The cooler temperatures have arrived, so it seemed like the perfect time to have an entire house go up in a day. The photos above show a custom BrightBuilt Home that was just set this week in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

ADU, ADU, to You and You and You

The ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) craze is gearing up to rightfully take over backyards, side yards, rural landscapes, and suburbia, with the aim to address housing needs in cities and for multi-generational households.

Our Story

In 2005, Keith Collins, a visionary entrepreneur (that's him on the left, below) hired Kaplan Thompson Architects (and that's Phil Kaplan there on the right, below) to help assemble a team to design and build him a revolutionary, forward-thinking moonshot of a project disguised as a barn, on his property in Rockport, Maine. It was to have ambitious goals of environmental responsibility, adaptability over time, replicability, attainability, and education potential inside what had to be a beautiful, liveable, timeless structure that looked like it had always been there.

A Custom Fit: Design Feature, the BrightBuilt Custom Home

If you love our designs, but have found that, due to your site, your needs, or just your spatial preferences, the designs in our portfolio don't quite work: fret not. At BrightBuilt, we can develop a fully customized house plan for you - from scratch - to be built off site and delivered to your (potentially-particular) site, and perfect for you, your needs, and your bottom line.

Materials Matter: Having a Light Bulb Moment

The humble light bulb has come a long way since its invention. Modern bulbs are designed to consume considerably less energy while producing the same amount of light and lasting substantially longer. Recent improvements in light quality and the ability to dim have made non-incandescent bulbs a viable option in virtually any setting. Energy efficient alternatives to traditional incandescent bulbs include compact fluorescent (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs. They might come with a slightly higher price tag in the immediate future, but they can last for years and will help you save significantly on utility costs.

Materials Matter: Don't Let your Appliances Take You to the Cleaners.

Looking to find a replacement fridge, or outfitting an entirely new Kitchen? Make sure you take a closer look at the energy consumption of any appliances you're aiming to purchase. It will save you on your bottom line, and will keep those treasured plug loads low to keep your solar array cranking into net-positivity.

Materials Matter: Chilling Out When the Heat is "On"

If you're currently suffering from the heat and humidity outside, like us, then you'll understand just how important the systems are in your home. We often focus on how warm our homes can be during a frigid New England winter, but did you know that they function just as well in summer? A BrightBuilt Home keeps you cool and free from the oppressive humidity!

Materials Matter: Going with the (low-) Flow

Good design and construction will help you improve efficiency by limiting the amount of heat that can transfer through the exterior, but a good green home also takes usage into consideration. Your home has a long life span. Start it off right with sustainable systems and materials that enable you to keep your environmental footprint small while still living comfortably in the modern world.

Materials Matter: Use the Right Stuff in your High Performance Home

Good design and construction will help you improve efficiency by limiting the amount of heat that can transfer through the exterior, but a good green home also takes usage into consideration. Your home has a long life span. Start it off right with sustainable systems and materials that enable you to keep your environmental footprint small while still living comfortably in the modern world.

The Breakdown on Thermal Breaks

A thermal break is a building element that limits the flow of heat between materials. Think about your morning cup of coffee. If the paper cup is too hot, you put a sleeve on it so you don’t burn your hand. That sleeve is a thermal break. However, the base of the cup and the open top are still allowing heat to escape.

Crushing on the Cushing: Week One of this Month's Featured Design

The Cushing is our nod to the classic New England Farmhouse. With a generous open-concept first floor layout, a ground floor master suite, banks of sun-soaking windows, and room upstairs for 2 bedrooms, laundry, 1-2 baths, and a bonus room (which also could become another bedroom), this design packs a lot into its compact, classic form.

Insulation: The Puffy Coat of the Built Environment

Increasingly, wall and roof thickness to accommodate additional insulation plays a major role in limiting heat transfer. A green home with a roof and walls that are thicker than a conventional home has better thermal comfort because less heat is allowed to escape in winter. You also get the bonus of having a much quieter home since thick, insulation-filled walls and roof filter out more sound from the outside.

Creating a Draft-Free Home

You already know that one of the major challenges when building a green home in New England is heat loss in winter, but there is less concern about heat gain in summer. One of the reasons for this is the difference between standard comfort levels and the outside air temperature. When you consider that 65° to 72° is comfortable for most people, a hot summer day is only a 20° to 25° difference. On the other hand, a cold winter day might range from a 35° to 80°+ difference in temperature. That’s quite a leap to get from the outside air temperature to your indoor comfort level, and any lost heat will require more energy to maintain the desired temperature.

Opening the Door (or Window) to Performance Possibilities

While paying close attention to the shape and volume of your new high-performance home, it's also important to pay attention to the holes you punch through its shell. The openings in a home are yet another chance for air to escape or enter. On a clear spring day you want your open windows to bring in fresh air, but on a cold winter day you want as little heat as possible to escape your cozy home. Even the best window is not as energy efficient as the minimum standard wall. Windows and doors are the primary source of both heat loss and gain in a home.

What's Your Ratio? Your home's surface to volume ratio counts for more than just math!

Last week we took a look at the how the number of surfaces (different planes, an abundance of corners, etc.) can impact a home's performance. In addition to the number of surfaces, the surface area-to-volume ratio is also an important consideration when building a green home. The more surface area a home has (the total area of the exterior walls, roof, and floors), the more opportunity there is for heat to escape or enter. Likewise, the higher the ratio, the greater the risk of loss.