Passive Home Neighborhood Shows Between Loveland, Fort Collins – BayWest
LARIMER COUNTY – In the area’s only completely passive home neighborhood, the two partners at Black Timber Builders LLC are combining modern design and technology to make the entire neighborhood energy efficient.
Passive home construction uses techniques that achieve a finished product that is 90% more efficient than a traditional home, and it is also so resistant to outside weather forces that its interior temperature varies little from season to season.
They achieve this goal through the use of high-efficiency windows, a strong application of insulation, and the installation of ventilation systems that include an air filtration system to keep residents comfortable.
Russell Baker and Kyle Meyer, partners at Black Timber, are on track to make that happen.
In a 40-acre subdivision called Donath Lake Estates, in Holland between Loveland and Fort Collins, the company is building 13 homes — four of which are under construction or under construction, two more designed and ready to build, and another in design. . The homes are upscale, well-designed and modern buildings with plenty of amenities.
The lot at 8301 Four Points Court sold in December for $2.7 million. It is 3,770 square feet on approximately 2 acres. It is not yet occupied — the owners plan to retire to Colorado — and there is still some construction underway, namely an outdoor pool and a pool house.
Each of the homes in the subdivision will be uniquely designed with the only requirement being that they be constructed to meet Passive Home standards. The house at 8301 just received its certification.
“We had no idea what a passive house was,” Baker said. “Once we explained, we saw a lot of interest. I like the concept. I like the convenience factor. We looked at the land and the spaces and thought this would be a good place to do it.”
Black Timber was created by Meyer in 2011 in Boulder. In 2015, it moved its operations to northern Colorado, and in 2020, Baker joined the company, Meyer said.
Baker’s experience was in land development. Mayer’s experience was in building homes.
“We wanted to control our destiny,” Baker said. That means buying land, owning it, designing structures for the property, building and selling — a vertically parallel business, Meyer said. The company employs carpenters and others rather than subcontracting. This way the final product can be controlled, which in the case of passive houses requires additional training and attention to detail.
The walls are 2X6 frame construction with four inches of exterior insulation. Inside the insulation there is an air barrier that has been carefully installed so that all edges are sealed. In other words, there is no leakage from the inside out.
The home at 8301 Four Points does not have a basement, but it does have a crawl space where air treatment/filtration equipment is installed.
High-efficiency, European-style windows swing inward and/or open from the top. Doors to areas outside the passive envelope — the interior garage door and front door, for example — are thicker than normal and close tightly, almost like the door to a fire-rated safe.
Passive home stilts are “highly insulated, air-tight construction including the bottom of the house, high-performance typically triple-pane glass with argon gas filler, and air quality technology,” Meyer said.
Passive homes recover heat from the people in them and from solar energy. The Four Points home’s solar system will generate 110% of the home’s load, meaning about 10% will return to the Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association grid.
The house has an electric heat pump for those times when solar power is not available.
“We wanted to see what we could do with modern architecture, not just a block structure. Our goal was to define this development,” Meyer said. The Four Points home was built speculatively and sold shortly after it went on the market.
While homes in the Donath Lake area are considered upscale, the passive nature of the homes only adds 5% to 10% to the cost, Meyer said.
As Black Timber builds out this subdivision, it also has other projects in the works, including townhomes at Ketcher Farms in Windsor, Eagle Brook in Loveland, and Old Town North in Fort Collins. Baker said he will soon start a 175-acre Sugar Creek neighborhood in North Loveland that will include “a myriad of product types.”