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NC Energy Star 3 &
NC Green Built Certified Home

Designed & Built By High Country Timberframe

First In Region To Receive Both Certifications

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Energy Efficient, High Performance Home Design

Matthew Vande of Vandemusser Designs (the independent 3rd party testing firm) had this to say after home inspection was complete: "VandeMusser Design, PLLC has tested well over a thousand green homes for various certifications over the years and the home we just tested for High Country Timberframe falls into the upper echelon of high-performance houses.

With a HERS index of 52 (48% better than code), the house they built for the Greene family in Boone, NC is projected to use approximately 50% of the energy of an equivalent code-built house. This was done through thorough air-sealing by the builder during construction, the use of cutting-edge materials such as structural insulated panels (SIP's) and insulated concrete forms (ICF's), and the use of ultra high-efficiency HVAC and water heating equipment. What resulted was a beautiful, high-performance house that tested better than 95% of the green houses we normally certify.

The builder was an active participant in the green certification process, asked good questions, and most importantly, listened to the advice we offered to make the house as efficient as possible within the constraints of the construction budget. I would not hesitate to recommend High Country Timberframe to anyone looking for an extremely high quality builder to build an energy efficient house for them. I look forward to inspecting and certifying many more projects from them!"


The Story

In 2015, clients came to us looking for someone who could both design and build a home that would be environmentally friendly, offer high energy efficiency and be structurally durable. They had a budget and general ideas about the interior design. However, they needed a builder with the knowledge of and a commitment to using modern methods and materials to design/build their high-performance home.

When we begin the process of working with a client to build or design/build their home, we focus first on the design and construction of the building envelope - foundation, walls, roof and then address the interior efficiency and comfort aspects. The envelope-first focus dramatically reduces the energy required to heat and cool a high performance home and also ensures the structural integrity is not compromised.

Using these as our guiding principle, the building envelope of the home we combines cutting-edge materials such as insulated concrete forms (ICF's), ShopBuilt Panelized Walls and Structural Insulated Panels (SIP's).

ICF Basement Walls

Strength of concrete and the energy efficiency of EPS

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ICF's Basement Walls

The basement and basement walls are designed and constructed with ICFs. ICF's integrate the strength of concrete and the energy efficiency of EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam. This method of construction provided both insulation and a vapor barrier while encasing the 10" thick concrete poured wall. The result is a superior, energy efficient wall that will provide long-term energy cost savings while also adding resale value.

ShopBuilt Pre-Fabricated Walls

Structural Integrity, Energy Efficient, Lessened Enviromental Impact

ShopBuilt Pre-Fabricated Wall Panels

The panelized exterior walls exterior of the home were pre-fabricated off-site in our manufacturing facility, The single largest contributing factor to achieving energy star certifications, they were designed and manufactured to exceed local building codes. A software program mapped out exact measurements which provided significant raw material waste savings, an estimated 2% on framing materials rather than the industry standard 20% for site built construction. Every piece of wood used in the home was drawn to exact size, cut in the shop, then given a part number to be used during the wall panel manufacturing.

Using staff carpenters, most of whom have received HERS Rater, BPI Building Envelope and Envelope Professional Certifications, the walls were framed with kiln dried, 2x6 lumber and sheathed. The wall sheathing combined the strength and stability of a structural sheathing system with the enhanced durability of the product's water-resistive barrier. A rain screen was used outside of the sheathing allowing any moisture that may find its way past the siding to have an airspace to dry. Electrical chases were drilled while in the manufacturing facility. Being constructed in the HCTF shop means the walls are never rained on or exposed to the elements. As many as possible windows and doors were installed prior to delivering the walls to the construction site.

The first floor and second floor exterior walls were completely installed on the existing subfloor in a matter of hours, not weeks.

SIPs Roof Panels

Air-tight Construction, Faster Build

SIPs Roof Panels

The roof system is constructed with 12.25-inch thick, R-48 SIPs over heavy timber trusses and rafters. Using SIP roof panels allowed for the home to be completely "dried in" within a day, while also offering a much more airtight structure. This resulted in reduced energy costs to heat and cool and a quieter and more comfortable space. SIP's can be used with conventional construction or over heavy timber trusses and rafters.

A "cold roof" system, is constructed over the top of the SIPs panels, essentially 1x4 sleeper's with a layer of 5/8" plywood sheathing and underlayment.

Similar in concept to a rain screen on the exterior walls, it provides for a 3/4" air space between the top of the SIP roof panel and the roof sheathing which carries the finish roofing material. The air space created by the "cold roof" allows for any condensation that may develop under the primary roofing material, a not uncommon condition under a metal roof, to dry before it may cause any problems.

Heavy Timber Trusses & Rafters

Timbers Offer Greater Design Flexibility

Douglas Fir Heavy Timber King Post Trusses

The douglas fir heavy timber roof system offered greater flexibility in the floor-plan layout than traditional trusses without compromising the structural integrity. They also provide a feel to the home that only natural heavy timber can convey and addressed the client's desire for a clear line of site from one area in the home to another.

The King Post Timber Truss handles long spans and heavy load conditions. This truss, used in conjunction with heavy timber attic or collar tie trusses, works well in a loft area, a great room or for an entryway. Modified King Post Trusses are are especially good when more visual height is desired in the building plan.

Efficiency and Comfort

Of A High Performance Home

Energy Efficiency, Functionality and Comfort

As longtime supporters of the Green Building Alliance and its mission, we reach out to GBA members whenever possible for input and advice on HVAC systems and specifications, roofing, plumbing, electrical fixtures and appliances, water run-off and site preparation.

Energy efficient windows and doors and ultra-high-efficiency variable speed heat pump systems with greenspeed Intelligence and a SEER rating of 19, HSPF of 10.5, and an EER rating of 14.5 help keep the lower and main level comfortable. A mini-split system provides the loft with conditioned air. The mini-split system creates a comfortable environment no matter what the conditions are outside with advanced monitoring controls and the personal comfort control offering the control of temperature, fan speed, and air direction.

Ultra-high-efficient water heating equipment contributes to a reduction in energy consumption, lessens air pollution both indoors and outdoors and reduces greenhouse emissions. An Energy Recovery Ventilator, expels stale polluted air outdoors and refreshes the home with clean outside air, while at the same time recovering energy and pre-tempering the air coming into the home.

This particular home utilizes no renewables for a number of different reasons. Even without the use of renewables there is so much that can be done to improve the efficiency of a home. Simply put, it comes down to being precise and taking the time to do the job the right way.

Building Methods and Materials

Building Science and Best Practices

Integration of Building Systems

We know that the building science and best practices are constantly being updated so it's important to stay current and evolve. In addition to the materials and construction methods used, the ability to make all systems work together as a cohesive unit is equally important. A structure meant to house people is a holistic system. There are multiple systems within that structure that have to work together, and we are learning to integrate these systems more efficiently.

The methods and materials used in our high performance homes are not a low cost alternative to site built construction but a long overdue step forward in general building best practices. The end result is to reduce environmental impact and ensure the client gets the most value for their money. It's also a reflection of who we are as a company, founded and directed by working carpenters, to do the best job possible on every project.

Our People

Are Always Up For The Challenge

Ready To Build An Energy Efficient Home?