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Bryan Bleier from our HPEz team and Kyle Barber from our design team recently attended the 16th annual PhiusCon (formerly North American Passive House Conference) at the historic Palmer House in Chicago IL. The guys specifically attended this year’s conference to connect with like-minded professionals in the industry and talk about New Energy Works investment in our High Performance Made Easier ™ (HPEz) enclosure systems as well as the teams ongoing commitment to develop sustainable and accessible higher performing homes.

 

Photo from Instagram @ passivehouseinstituteus
Photo from Instagram @ passivehouseinstituteus

 

PhiusCon is the leading passive building conference for climate-specific zero energy design, construction, and building science expertise. The conference is presented by parent organization Phius which is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization committed to decarbonizing the built environment by making high-performance passive building the mainstream market standard. Phius also certifies the majority of passive house projects in North America with their locally tailored, globally applicable passive building standard.

 

Bryan Bleier (Left) Kyle Barber (right) in Chicago attending PhiusCon
Bryan Bleier (Left) Kyle Barber (right) in Chicago attending PhiusCon

 

living room

 

Anthony Venezia  has been spending his weekends this past year building a highly crafted high-performance home in Canandaigua New York. This construction project is designed to be a modern and sustainable home for Anthony and his family and features dark stained Douglas fir timber accents as well as two-tone Shou Sugi Ban exterior siding and white oak flooring & stair treads from our sister company Pioneer Millworks.

Most importantly, the home utilizes our High Performance Made Easier ™ (HPEz) enclosure system which enabled Anthony and Luke to construct the home to the efficiency standards they wanted to achieve with the project. 

Now that the family home is nearing completion, we caught up with Anthony to discuss how the project got started, why he wanted to build sustainably, and what it was like building a home for his family with a high-performance enclosure system that was manufactured off-site.

 

Exterior

 

Q: How did this high-performance construction project get started?

 

HPEz

 

Our HPEz (High Performance Made Easier™) team has been busy in the past year crafting and installing enclosure systems for numerous projects throughout the country. In addition to designing our own High-Performance enclosure systems, on select projects we offer off-site manufacture of panelization systems as a subcontractor.

One of those projects is a Pre-Certified Passive House near Philadelphia PA where our team partnered with Holzraum System to manufacture and install their Holzraum XP20 Wall Systems on a home designed by architect Macht Architecture and built by Hanson Fine Homebuilding. Our team also installed the floor and roof system on site as well, focusing on the intricate panel joining process to ensure the home meets Passive House thermal envelope standards.

 

HPEz

 

“Holzraum System came to us with this project, they did the 3D computer model configurations of the enclosure and other components. Once they had it in architectural drawings, we helped them break it into panel sections for manufacturing in our HPEz shop,” Kevin Gilbert, Construction Superintendent from our team told us.

 

Photos by: Jane Beiles
Photos by: Jane Beiles

 

For one couple in rural Connecticut the concept was to create a multigenerational space to enjoy with their five children, friends, and extended family. Part of a sweeping master plan for their property, this understated antiqued party barn is intended to adapt as the family grows and ages over time.

 

Photos by: Jane Beiles
Photos by: Jane Beiles

 

Architect Mark P. Finlay, who has a long-standing relationship with the family, defined the core concept for this family barn as a multigenerational building with a long-term plan. The current incarnation of the space is that of a party barn where the owners children can spend time with their friends out of the main house while remaining on the family property.

 

Photos by: Jane Beiles
Photos by: Jane Beiles

 

“It’s a multigenerational design.” Explains Mark. “We worked it through and talked about the functions of the building, how it’s going to work, who is going to use it, how it would be used in 20 years versus now. We really talked through the whole thing. It’s part of a three generation, or 50-year, plan. It is a building with a singular design idea that will work really well in the future because it can adapt to a lot of different functions.”

 

For owners Doug Doetsch and his wife Susan Manning, their roots of apple farming in the Catskills Mountain Region of New York run deep. Doug has apple farming in his blood, tracing his ties to the area back five generations on both sides of his family including apple farms of the 1800’s, through prohibition era bootlegging of hard cider and applejack, to his own childhood growing up on orchards in the area. Apple farming is something of a Doetsch legacy.

 

Seminary Hill

 

After moving away for thirty-or-so years to establish a career in international finance law, Doug returned to his roots and recently founded Seminary Hill, an organic orchard & cidery in Callicoon.

With the help of renowned orchardist Michael Philips and an expansive team of local like-minded folks, the Seminary Hill team started planning the holistic twelve acre orchard in 2012. It now includes more than 1,500 trees with an astonishing 60 varieties of American, English, and French heirloom apples and pears with plans to expand in the coming decade. The orchards ecosystem is based on the sympathetic planting of pollinating and pest-repellent plants and flowers so that the apples and pears can be grown without the use of chemical pesticides. Organic all the way.

 

Seminary Hill

 

One of the best ways to reduce the energy a home or building consumes is careful consideration of the envelope. Our journey to creating the most efficient building enclosure/envelope began in the mid 1990’s with the first version of the Matrix Wall™. We regularly adjust this wall system, incorporating what we’ve learned and what new sustainable materials may be available to reduce consumption and increase comfortable living. In 2017 this journey took us to Poland to learn more about wood fiber insulation from Steico. In 2018 we landed in the Netherlands to explore semi-automated custom tooling. Fast forward (let’s all just skip 2020) to 2021 – welcome to High Performance Made Easier!

Our High-Performance Enclosure System
We’ve incorporated semi-automated tooling from the Netherlands to help create the latest version of our Matrix Wall™. The tooling is set, calibrated, and currently running its first wall system for a timber frame home.

We’ve added a new building with new semi-automated tooling to produce the latest evolution of our Matrix Wall™ systems–we’re calling it HPEz, High-Performance Made Easier–to our campus in Farmington NY. Earlier this month we ran the very first wall panel for calibration and plain old getting-to-know-the-tools practice: 

Tucked into Puget Sound in Washington, this site allows the homeowners to feed their passions: boating, family time, and entertaining. Easy access for boats and creating spaces large enough to house large family and friends gatherings drove the design, secondary only to the desire for a “refined lodge” aesthetic.

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Known as a full timber frame, the entirety of the home and garage were crafted with timbers, specifically reclaimed Douglas fir timbers. When plans began, the design was quite traditional. “The more we looked at the site and the possible views, the more it transitioned, evolved,” explained David Shirley, AIA, member of our design team. “We angled the house in a soft arc of sorts which maximized views of the Sound as well as those of the Cascade Mountain range in the distance.” This change capitalized on the views and the natural wrap of the land.

No, it is not built into an earthen bank, rather this traditionally inspired timber frame ‘barn’ has had a financial bank built into it. Welcome to the newest branch of LNB (Lyons National Bank):

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Waving corn fields and tight rows of soybeans have given way to smooth grass, colorful signage, and numerous clusters of homes within the Town of Farmington in Ontario County, NY. Grow though the Town has, respecting and celebrating their rural roots is of utmost importance to the community. When LNB approached the Town about a site that was home to the second oldest structure in the County, a farmhouse that has stood for two centuries, there was some skepticism. But at the core LNB is about community. The Town became excited by the bank’s proposal: LNB wanted to embrace the old homestead, the Hathaway House, endeavoring to preserve, celebrate, and open it to the community as part of their new branch. 
(More on the history of the home and property was provided by the Hathaway Sisters, who shared stories, photos, and personal memories around the old homestead, as celebrated by LNB here.)   
 

We’re excited share more of the story on our long-time banking partner, LNB (Lyons National Bank), and their newest community branch which we raised just up the road from our Farmington, NY shop.

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The first bent is raised for the new LNB Farmington NY branch, early 2020. Photo (C) Jim Kerins.
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June 2020 the new LNB Farmington branch is making quick progress.

While the branch is quickly heading towards completion, we wanted to re-cap some of the processes involved in getting there:

LNB has a focus on people and is always very involved in the local communities, ethos that parallel our own. The Farmington branch site includes a historic home that is being preserved and refreshed. A new timber frame, connecting to the historic home, will accommodate the bank’s main operations.

State College, PA: Homeowners Jim and Cheryl came to us with a dream home request: design and craft a home for two which could also easily accommodate much larger gatherings with family and friends. The resulting simple and classic cruciform plan for their hybrid timber frame home fits the couple while incorporating space—inside and out—for others.

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Photo (C) Scott Hemenway

Jim and Cheryl, their children, and their friends attended the same university near State College in PA where game season is a great reason to join together. The couple found a site nestled at the base of a long rise to the mountains on one side, and open to expansive views into Nittney Valley on the other. “We wanted to take advantage of the views and offer additional space for intensive entertaining to flow outside,” explained Ty Allen, our design/build manager. “The result is nearly 2,000 sq ft of outdoor deck, porch, and patio space in addition to interior living areas.”

When we met Nancy and Larry to first chat about their timber frame home aspirations, we learned that Larry is a beekeeper and suddenly we were as full of questions about beekeeping as we were with answers to home designing and building. The couple shares a special affinity for nature, much like our various teams (if you’ve ever read our bios, you’ll see a reoccurring theme of ‘hiking, biking, and being outdoors’). Taking a look at the bucolic piece of farm and woodlands near Ithaca, NY was one of the first steps to designing the couple’s home. Ty Allen, AIA, our design build manager and architect, met with Larry and Nancy on their site to explore the possibilities. Ty shared with us a bit about the overall project and process:

 

Ty explained that the site offered a good combination of open space and mature woods. There was a desire to embrace both with this custom home.
Ty explained that the site offered a good combination of open space and mature woods. There was a desire to embrace both with this custom home.

“When we walked the site it became clear we could create a design that would give Larry and Nancy a home which engaged with both the surrounding woods and open spaces. We knew they wanted something of manageable size and easy to maintain where they could enjoy their retirement,” Ty shared.

Recently we did a project with Black Oak Builders and Barry Price Architecture in Saugerties, NY. Interestingly for us, the majority of the project was not timber frame (though they do have a sweet little timber piece off the side of the garage that may someday house a small maple sugaring operation). No, in this case Black Oak Builders reached out to us to partner on the enclosure system for three additions to this 1800’s home; a master bedroom suite, an office/bedroom wing, and a two-story garage.

 

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Our goal with High Performance Enclosures (HPE) is simple—to help builders achieve better building performance for their clients and to make the projects go as smoothly as possible. With our knowledge in systems building (from years in timber framing, as well as construction experience in our Finger Lakes backyard) we can bring the nuances of off-site construction to enclosure building and pre-panelization to those looking for custom solutions. Our construction team built 66 panels in about 2 weeks and headed out in a snowstorm to install the them in January. This off-site minimizes the time needed on-site, saving projects weeks and speeding up the deliverable of a finished space to a client.

The enclosure was our MartixS wall system. Built of 2×6 framing, ½ OSB, 60mm wood-fiber insulation (Steico in this case), house wrap, and vertical strapping for attachment of the siding. All designed to fit within the 8’6” shipping constraints. The Steico wood fiber insulation allows one less petroleum-based element in the system and an opportunity for carbon sequestration—both pieces that help our buildings carry a load in slowing climate change. Used with the Mento Plus house wrap (a weather resistant barrier that is extremely waterproof and air tight while allowing the wall to dry to the exterior) and the tightness of the panels themselves, the performance of these new spaces should make a sizable impact to the client’s comfort, HVAC costs, and do a favor for our planet.