Maurer House and Studio

Case Study inachieving Net Zero energy

Built in 2003, the 1,850 sq. ft. Maurer House overlooks Lake Okanagan in BC on a sloping site with bedrock outcrops that we built around by dividing the house into three pieces around a central garden and mature trees: a studio/garage on the east, the master bedroom pavilion on the south, and the main living pavilion on the west.

By Florian Maurer

SUBSCRIBE TO THE DIGITAL OR PRINT ISSUE OF ECOHOUSE CANADA FOR THE FULL VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE.

The gently sloping shed roofs and exterior wood screens blend the pavilions into the landscape. Construction consists of an exposed glulam post and beam frame, large expanses of high-performance glazing, and profiles galvalume cladding.  Glazing is applied directly to the glulam framing, and the glazing beads are rectangular Douglas fir pieces that appear as part of the frame.
We used high quality, durable materials in a simple structural form: a modest  approach that has brought the house a number of architectural awards, among them a Governor General’s Medal for Architecture in 2006.

The jury for this Award said, in part, “The project’s convincing economies offer a valuable contribution to promote environmental sustainability, commonsense and restraint. In a context dominated by generic, often overbuilt houses, the building is a visible alternative and incentive for discussion.”

Without high-tech gizmos it found its way into the book “150 Best Eco House Ideas” [Collins Design, New York, 2010], among numerous other publications.

Improvements since 2003
Our goal was to reach Net Zero energy but our building budget of $120/sq.ft. in 2003 wasn’t enough to pay for some components that would have made the building even less wasteful. We rectified this three years ago with the idea to generate all the building’s energy needs on site. These are the project’s components:

  • a grid-tie photovoltaic system expected to meet all heating, lighting and cooling loads;
  • a geothermal heating system replacing the existing boiler, using the existing radiant in-floor heating system;
  • a gas fired on-demand boiler replacing the existing boiler-mate for domestic hot water, and to act as emergency back-up to the heat pump;
  • replacing the gas-fired hot water tank in the small stand-alone studio with a baby electric boiler, tied into the existing radiant in-floor heating system;
  • improving the building envelope by eliminating the open combustion air inlet, which the new on-demand unit no longer needs.

MATERIALS

  • Post and beam construction of glued-laminated timber, with fixed glazing units of low-E, soft-coated glass; fiberglass batt insulation and standard membranes.
  • Cladding is corrugated galvalume
  • 9.Kw PV system, 40 modules with 40 microinverters
  • Geothermal system for in-floor radiant heating with back-up from on-demand boiler.
  • Flooring is porcelain tile throughout

Florian Maurer is an award-winning architect in Naramata, BC.