Over the River & Through the Woods

Location: North Yarmouth

Two years ago, a New York couple looking to relocate closer to family in Maine purchased a wooded 10-acre lot on the shores of the Royal River in North Yarmouth. Briburn in Portland was selected as the architect to design an energy-efficient home and artist’s studio (not shown) capable of reaching net-zero energy goals. The structures are sited to create visual and acoustic separation while maximizing views east to the river as well as southern orientation for natural light and heat gain in the winter. Briburn worked with Portland’s Soren DeNiord Design Studio and the owners to develop a series of public and private exterior spaces—auto courts, walking paths, patios, and gardens—that contrast yet harmonize with the landscape.

Photovoltaic panels on the studio roof are designed to offset all the energy demand for that building as well as the home, which features cellulose-filled, 12-inch-thick double-stud exterior walls, triple-glazed windows and doors, four inches of rigid insulation beneath the concrete slab foundation, deep roof overhangs to control light on the south side, a highly efficient gas-fired boiler, radiant in-floor heating, and an energy recovery ventilator to circulate fresh air. Taggart Construction in Freeport used tapes and sealant to create a tight building envelope with an air filtration rate of an impressive 0.85 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals.

The exterior finishes were chosen for their natural beauty, low- maintenance properties, and to blend with the earth tones on the site. Locally harvested, thermally modified poplar, which requires no paint finish and is termite and rot resistant, is being used for the siding; the trim around the aluminum-clad wood windows is a poly-ash material. Both the windows and trim are painted dark bronze to create a unified appearance.