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December 2009 – Margo Campbell and Mark Gregory

“We wanted a very maintainable, sustainable house that fits into the neighborhood.”  And so Margo and Mark began designing their energy efficient home in north Greenfield.

Their home is a reflection of their interest in up-to-date technology and personal history.  “I can’t stand waste,” says Margo. “My father was a frugal Vermonter and I learned from him.” The primary waste they want to avoid is wasted energy.

Margo and Mark have been working toward energy efficiency throughout their lives. “Over the years we got more consciously involved in upgrading each house we lived in.” They progressed from adding insulation to their first home, to changing windows later, improving electrical work, and using a woodstove insert in an old fireplace.

They designed their new home to use 70% less energy than a similar-sized home. According to their architect, Scott Baum, they expect that 45% of their savings will come from air sealing and installing a heat recovery ventilator and 40% will be saved through hi quality insulation. Another 15% will be saved by using very energy efficient windows. With these anticipated savings, Margo and Mark were able to reduce the size of their heating system, eliminate the need for a basement, and make the first floor concrete slab available for thermal storage and low temperature radiant floor heating. By investing in energy efficiency they were able to build a better home at no additional cost!

Since September when they moved into their home, the temperature has maintained itself at a constant 70-72 degrees thanks to the south facing exposure, the slab with radiant heat supplied by solar water heaters, and so much more. “We wanted a home that is easy and low cost to maintain …We combined good quality with good design so everything should last for a long time,”  meaning for hundreds of years into the future and for multi-generations. They limited the self-contained first floor to 1100 square feet to demonstrate that “… people can have a really nice house and it doesn’t have to be huge.”  Their open-living space includes ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) features such as a wheelchair accessible shower and sink. They also have two bedrooms and a bath on the second floor.

To talk with Margo and Mark is to learn that doing all one can to care for the environment is a playful, rewarding act of … whatever makes you happy.

Think Global, Act Local EarthThrives tells the story of what is Green, Sustainable and Local for the Pioneer Valley, MA!