Sustainable Colorado Architecture

Zero Net-Energy/FireWise Home

Zero Net-Energy/FireWise Home


After losing their home to the High Park fire outside of Fort Collins, Colorado in the summer of 2012, the owners were determined to rebuild their home to achieve the highest levels of efficiency, comfort and safety.  By optimizing insulation, air-tightness and high-performance windows, the new house will use about 80% less power than similarly sized projects.  This allowed for the remainder of the energy to be offset by a small on-site solar photovoltaic and hot water system to achieve Zero Net-Energy use; neither natural gas nor propane will be installed.  Because of the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), the house also employs many FireWise strategies which will help to protect it in the event of a future forest fire.  MANIFOLD provided all architectural design services as well as energy modeling to optimize the HVAC system.

passive firewise exterior

passive kitchen framed view

daylight passive

passive daylight

passive kitchen view

welcome home

Below are some images describing the construction process and techniques (in reverse chronological order).

Fire Resistant Exterior Finishes:

All exterior finishes are non combustible: cement board, stucco, and metal.  Combined with the protective under-layer and triple pane windows, the exterior envelope will provide an extremely strong barrier against any future forest fire.

FireWise Exterior


Fire Protective layer:

A continuous layer of fiberglass faced exterior gypsum board is installed around the house to provide an enhanced lever of fire protection under the siding. Aluminum-clad triple pane tempered glass windows provide additional fire resistance.

fire protection gypsum board layer


Insulation Installation:

Blow-in fiberglass insulation installation:

fiberglass insulation install


Insulation Cavity:

Once the preliminary air-tightness has been verified, openings are cut in and the TJI insulation cavity is installed on the exterior.blow in insulation cavity


Air-Barrier prior to blower door test:

Preliminary test achieved 0.15 ACH50; approximately 20 times more airtight than the average code-built house.  This image demonstrates the importance of project phasing and coordination in order to achieve design goals.  The air barrier was designed to be installed at a specific point in construction so that the process would be as clean and simple as possible.  Overhangs, exterior insulation cavities and openings are installed after confirmation that the air barrier meets (or in this case exceeds) specification.

air barrier


View down valley framed through clerestory window:

Framed View