Our Story


The BrightBuilt Story

In 2005, a visionary entrepreneur hired Kaplan Thompson Architects 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.

The result was the BrightBuilt Barn, 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.

Since 2004, Kaplan Thompson has designed over 60 homes that are net zero or net zero-ready, and with a mission of "Beautiful Sustainable Attainable," now has a channel to help those who care less about a unique answer to living and more about a well-designed home that provides all of those original goals of the Jewell - formerly known as BrightBuilt Barn - durability, health, sustainability, performance, and beauty, as well as an easier path to ownership. BrightBuilt, in the few years since inception, has just about equalled Kaplan Thompson’s output, providing excellent buildings to many aspiring homeowners who dared to dream.