Bright-Minded Home – December 2012

BRIGHT-MINDED HOME – December 2012
By Melissa Coleman

Every month in this column, MH+D follows up with the owners of energy-smart homes to find out how they’re faring. 


A new building at 29 Waterville Street in Portland’s East End is what happens when a developer (Peter Bass of Random Orbit), two architects (David Lloyd of Archetype and Jenny Scheu of Redhouse Architects), and a builder (John Ryan of Wright-Ryan Construction) team up to build their own three-unit apartment complex. Here’s what the six owners appreciate about the energy- and lifestyle-efficient building they now call home.

David Lloyd & Nancy Adams
The most surprising element of the project for us was the ease of coordination between the six individuals involved (fairly strong-minded, all!). Everyone agreed on an overall vision of design and function, so we were able to make decisions quickly, and we valued each member’s contributions to the mix. We also love the open floor plan after living in a shotgun-style Victorian, and that our energy costs are a quarter of what they used to be.

John Ryan & Jenny Scheu
The key was to keep it simple, be prepared to compromise, and maintain a sense of humor. We also affirmed that it’s better to invest in an airtight, well-insulated enclosure than sophisticated systems. As a result, we heat our 1,800-square-foot unit for $150 per year using a natural-gas-condensing boiler, and our utility bills for gas and electricity are less than $1,000 per year. Plus, since we walk to work and downtown, there are weeks when we never get in the car.

Peter Bass & Lin Lisberger
The best part of the physical building is how comfortable it is year-round. Constant ocean breezes and ceiling fans keep the flat cool all summer without AC, and the temperature is incredibly even with no cold spots in winter. The boiler was down last winter, and we didn’t even notice until day three. The other benefit is our transformation to a walking/biking lifestyle. We had no idea how much we would enjoy the engagements of living in town.