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Hiram – A model home in Village Gate Community is a model of energy efficiency in new home construction. Trading out cement block and traditional plywood for Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) block, Slab Shield, Low-E house wrap, recycled cellulose, oriented strand board, Trex deck boards and other ‘green’ construction materials allows this “Eco-Home” by Big Sky Homes to heat and cool for less than $100 per month. According to company co-owner and builder Michael Farrow, “Our effective insulation value is nearly double that of the building code requirements and industry standards.”

In partnership with ICF specialist Tim Lehotsky, Farrow says this nearly-finished house at 7009 Village Way demonstrates that energy efficiency can be achieved both economically and aesthetically. This three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home featuring a full (nearly 1,000-square-foot) walkout basement, fireplace, attached two-car garage, and deck on a quarter-acre wooded lot is on the market for a $272,000 base price…. “a bargain compared to others of comparable size,” Farrow says.

From below-ground to rooftop, this house features eco-friendly construction materials that deliver top-rated energy efficiency values. It costs about 6% more up front than a traditional stick frame house, Farrow says, but it starts paying back in energy savings from day one.

The basement foundation was built of ICF poured walls, which feature an R-25 insulating value, the strength of bullet-proof concrete, and improved acoustics. Each block consists of two polystyrene foam panels held together by a rigid plastic webbing. Blocks are stacked together to form the structure, which is then filled with concrete and reinforced with rebar. The resulting walls are strong, thermally insulated, water tight, and drywall-ready.

A combination of low-E slab shield and foam insulation underneath the concrete basement floor further enhances energy efficiency. (In practical terms, that means you step down into a warm basement from the main floor, even when the furnace is off on a winter’s day.) This home’s ceiling and attic are insulated to an R-48 value. Add to that top-rated windows (with 12” deep sills), doors and sealants for a truly energy efficient home.

When asked if this home qualifies as a LEED-certified building, Farrow said, “We build to a higher standard than required for LEED certification and deliver the ‘greenest’ finished product. We have exceeded ‘green’ standards and more with this new home and with every home we build.”

But energy efficiency is just half the story. This 2,077-square-foot house also makes creative use of otherwise wasted space and the craftsmanship of its custom builder is evident in the details. Maintenance-free exterior vinyl slate grey siding, sustainable bamboo indoor flooring, the master bath featuring a custom ceramic-tiled shower, a great room featuring 17-foot vaulted ceilings, and picture windows offering wooded views and natural light all coordinate to deliver a story-and-a-half traditional aesthetic with a Cape Cod feel.

While this house may not be on the market for long, Farrow and Lehotsky are poised to purchase additional lots at Village Gate to provide this community with more options for a customized Eco Home. For further information, visit www.bigskyhomes.info .

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Estelle R. Brown is a freelance writer who lives in Garrettsville with her family. She has written and taken photos for newspapers, magazines and e-zines for the past 25 years. She also enjoys working on public relations projects, including web content, newsletters, posters, brochures, press releases, and other creative endeavors. She enjoys writing compelling stories about her community as a contributing reporter for the Villager.