High Performance Homes in Connecticut

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New Canaan ResidenceThe Trolle brothers Mike and Chris in Wilton, Connecticut are determined characters, builders set on making homes that are not only comfortable but also sustainable.

Buildings that are kind to Planet Earth come in many shapes and sizes as recent projects undertaken in New Canaan by their enterprise BPC Green Builders illustrate.

On the one hand, Mike Trolle was responsible for a brand new residence he constructed in New Canaan, CT. With the help of Trillium Architects, he presented the clients  with a 6,500 square feet mansion for which the description ‘neo-traditional’ might have been invented.

On the other hand, Chris - also in cahoots with Elizabeth DeSalvo of Trillium - tackled a sensitive site in a historical area, the prestigious Taft School. The result is not only in keeping with the heritage but also a practical lesson in energy conservation for the students attending the school.

Both the New Canaan project and the Taft School teacher residence will be cosy for many years to come without requiring fossil fuels.

Both have the last word in high-tech windows, supplied by Klearwall, the triple paners that supply Irish made fully certified Passive House windows and doors.

‘Our goal is to build highly energy efficient homes,’ says Mike Trolle who went for the imports from Europe simply because the standards there are higher. The family home he built also features some neat new twists on traditional local house building, such as the shingles filled with photo voltaic panels.

New Canaan is affluent country so the investment is justified by the high property prices in the area.Taft School Residence

However, Mike’s clients pulled up just short of aspiring to the full Passive House standard.

‘They did not want to go through the Passive House protocol,’ he explains.

Meanwhile, however, brother Chris was dealing with an institution which was eager to go the whole hog. The Taft School is a coeducational boarding school with close to 600 students and an appearance that dates back more than a century. Green Builders and Trillium were required to figure a way of meeting the strict criteria of the history commission while not breaking the budget.

‘You had to make it look like it was from the early 1900s,’ says Chris, who was caught between two sets of unbending demands. The chief challenge was the windows, which are key to any Passive House, yet in this instance also key to the look of the place.

Klearwall helped to devise a triple-paned awning sash window which ticked all the boxes.

The lucky teacher assigned to this on-campus accommodation will never need a heavy quilt on the bed in even the coldest of winters.‘They don’t know what the temperature is outside,’ laughs Chris Trolle who believes that the interest in passive housing is growing across America, and not before time.

Words by David Medcalf, Medders Media.
Photos by BPC Green Builders