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New England Timber Barn Awarded "Outstanding" Green Design

A New England timber barn wins big with its highly efficient pre-fab design.

Pre-Fab Timber Home Great Room

The Home Builder Association of Connecticut has honored Bensonwood Homes of Walpole, New Hampshire, and builder, Timberdale of Bethel, Connecticut, with the “Outstanding Energy-Efficient and Green Custom Home” HOBI award for 2011. The award goes to a highly energy-efficient, pre-fab 4,000-square-foot home designed by Bensonwood architect Chris Adams that showcases a modern take on the classic New England barn.

To accomplish this aesthetic, Adams included simple, rustic materials, such as exposed Douglas fir timbers, steel hardware and vertical barnboard siding. The open floor plan, state-of-the-art kitchen and vaulted ceilings add a bright, modern feel to the natural design. The highly insulated, tightly sealed home was fabricated in panelized sections, off-site, at Bensonwood’s facilities in New Hampshire. The shell of the home was raised rapidly on-site in Weston, Connecticut, by members of the Bensonwood and Timberdale teams, with Timberdale completing the finished construction.

Other standout features of this award-winning New England barn include:

• The south-facing windows are double-glazed with a 0.33 U-factor, while the northern side is outfitted with triple-glazed 0.2 windows. For much of the fall and some of the winter, heating is provided only by the centrally located Tulikivi wood-burning fireplace. Made of Scandinavian soapstone, the heat-accumulating firebox radiates warmth for up to 24 hours after a fire is put out, so Adams located an air return nearby to help circulate the warm air throughout the house.

• The home is sealed with a European gasketing product instead of traditional foam. The foam rubber material from Trelleborg ensures an airtight seal at every intersection of the building envelope and retains its resilience even during shifting and through seasonal expansion and contraction, Adams says.

• Other sustainable features include a Renewaire ERV for fresh indoor air, dual-flush WaterSense-certified toilets and an Energy Star-rated Voltex hybrid electric heat pump hot water heater from AO Smith.

• The home was built using the Open-Built design process that is used for all Bensonwood homes. This process takes a layered design approach that allows owners to easily move or remove walls or access fixtures and wiring to adapt to the changing needs of occupants.