Stand on the outside and it’s difficult to see what makes this four-story home under construction in north Denver so innovative. That is, until looking at the list of energy-conscious materials and technologies that are part of the package.
It is not so much a list as it is a blueprint for the future, a habitat that has been built with a minimal energy footprint –- both for the environment and for the folks who have to pay the energy bills.
Richard Sims, owner of Sims Construction, is nearing completion of this state-of-the-art geothermal, insulated panel home that, when complete, will use no natural gas for heating or cooling purposes and only half of what would be considered a normal electricity bill.
This home represents a dream Sims has had for five years. “I wanted to build a better mousetrap,” says Sims. “I have always wanted to work with more efficient housing.”
Now it will be the first such example in the metropolitan area.
The home blends an Austrian-based Amasond geoexchange system with a structural insulated concrete panel system (SCIP). When coated with Sakrete, the walls will protect the house’s heated and cooled air with a verifiable R-40 rated insulation rating.
Engineer and geothermal innovator Merline Van Dyke is presently working with Sims Construction on finishing this 2,400 square-foot house that uses structural concrete insulated panels (SCIPs) on the exterior to maintain efficient temperatures.
“What I’m interested in talking about are the efficient ones,” says Van Dyke. He began experimenting with making homes more efficient in 1994, building a home in the foothills west of Denver, using structural insulated panels.
The Amasond Geoexchange system Sims has installed in this domicile has a lot of appeal. Geothermal (taken from the Greek roots geo, or earth, and thermos, or heat) is power extracted from heat stored in the earth.
Sims drilled to a depth of 118 feet, where the Denver earth is a constant temperature of 52 degrees — a foundation for adding heat in the inter or cool air in the summer.
At Amasond, developing a new technology system for a geothermal heat exchange was an idea developed by Dr. Sonderegger, director of HENN connectors, and Ing. Amann, who has worked in the field of energy and geothermics for many years.
Sims flew to Austria to learn as much as possible about the company’s Geoexchange system, not just for the homes he will be building, but for existing homes that can be retrofitted with a geothermal system.
The top floor of the home will serve as a garden and patio, says Sims. The lower portion will feature a three-car garage. Sims says he is already receiving calls of interest from other builders and architects. The Amasond system is modularly designed, offering installation flexibility. In addition to being a modular platform, the Amasond system can be used for retrofitting on existing homes. Sims says the price tag can run from $20,000 to $30,000.