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, livable, timeless structure that looked like it had always been there.
The result was the Jewell, one of the regions first truly documented net-zero energy buildings (every year since 2008), with live energy use visible online...and on the building itself. In order to spread the word and in the spirit of open-source collaboration, the plans were given away for free and downloaded over 7,000 times, inspiring a host of others across the globe to think more deeply about living more sustainably, and perhaps build their own. It was featured in the New York Times, USA Today, and NPR, earned LEED Platinum Certification, and won the LEED Innovative Project award for 2008 among other accolades.
After the recession lifted in 2012 and energy prices spiked, there was a tremendous pent-up demand for living more modestly with less environmental impact, and protecting future investments from another economic meltdown. BrightBuilt Home was launched in 2013 as a sister company to Kaplan Thompson to capture these inquiries and give an option to their clients with more modest budgets and speedier timelines who did not want to compromise on their goals to live in a better-built home. It has been 5 years since we officially decided to hang out the BrightBuilt Home shingle, and in that time, 78 new high-performance net-zero homes have either been built or are on the boards.
Auspicious beginnings...Here's to the future!