Project Profile: DOE Performance House by Preferred Builders

DOE-Endorsed Performance House Excels

With eight certifications under its belt, the Performance House serves green building practices alongside eclectic home features to satisfy interested green home buyers.

By Carly Caumiant

With its historic mansions and grandiose architecture, Old Greenwich, Connecticut, knows how to build bigger and fancier than most. However, when Preferred Builders set their sail in the coastal town, they were more interested in building for performance.

Preferred Builder’s 21st century Performance House was built to mirror the town’s traditional historic design with steep gables, dormer windows, and a columned porch. The DOE-endorsed home was completed in October 2012 and has since earned a respected collection of green building certifications.

Sitting on 2,700 square feet, the home has earned eight certifications including second place for the Department of Energy Challenge Home in the U.S., and holding first place in New England. All of the home’s appliances are ENERGY STAR rated, earning it the ENERGY STAR for Homes Version 3 certification.

“All of the cardboard, wood, gypsum, and scrap metal were recycled,” explained Preferred Builder owner Peter J. Fusaro.

“The kitchen and vanities are Forest Stewardship Council certified, countertops were made of 93 percent recycled quartz, the sheetrock was a 100 percent recycled content product, and all of the concrete contained recycled glass.”

The home also met DOE Challenge Home Indoor airPlus and WaterSense criteria, while abiding by disaster-resistance recommendations. The home’s green awards and designations have pleasantly allowed Fusaro to stand above the competition that resides in the coastal town of Old Greenwich.

The home has achieved the National Green Building Standard Emerald level, LEED Platinum, the Connecticut Home Builders Industry Awards for Best Green Energy Efficient Spec Home and Best Green Energy Efficient Home Overall, and was a runner up in the Connecticut Light and Power Utility Company competition “2012 Connecticut Zero Energy Challenge.”

Standing as a building block certification for both DOE Challenge Home and LEED for homes, ENERGY STAR Version 3 created a convenient path toward green success for Fusaro. “It saved a lot of paperwork and it allowed me to go the performance path for LEED platinum,” said Fusaro.

The 2-story, 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath home contains two SEER-16 air conditioners and a full finished basement. And with push-button hot water circulation pumps and EPA WaterSense-approved shower heads, faucets, toilets and irrigation, waterconservation is set to a high standard in the home. A storm water management system even channels rainwater to retention chambers buried in the front yard.

“To improve water resistance in the bathrooms, KERDI, a water proofing, breathable fabric product by Schluter was installed on the backer board with thinset before the tile was installed,” said Fusaro. For water heating, there is a line from the boiler to the 78-gallon storage tank. The 95 percent gas-fired boiler has hot water coils to air handlers with variable-speed fans in the basement and attic of the home. There is even an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) separately ducted to supply fresh, outside air to main living areas.

The home achieves a HERS Score of 42 without solar PV and a HERS Score of 20 with solar PV. The above-grade walls have R-24 blown cellulose plus R-7.5 high density EPS rigid foam, membrane-coated OSB sheathing, and a mesh rain screen.

“The 0.25-inch-thick mesh layer can be used in place of furring strips to provide continuous air space for drainage and drying with a thermal break behind exterior cladding,” explained Fusaro.

The exterior of the home helps to enhance its efficiency and durability with weather resistant PVC trim and decking, casement style windows of low-emissivity, and a roof that meets ENERGY STAR and LEED for Homes criteria. The above-grad 2x6, 16-inch on-center framed walls were sheathed with a treated wood product that has an integrated coating on the exterior side that is both water and weather resistant.

“This coating prevents the need to install house wrap when all seams are taped with the manufacturer’s proprietary tape,” Fusaro adds. “Over the coated sheathing, high-density EPS rigid foam was installed. The 1.5-inch-thick sheets provide R-7.5 of insulation value and have tongue and groove joints that are taped for a water-tight, wind-proof seal.”

The main roof was insulated along roofline with 4 inch (R-27.6) closed-cell spray foam, 3 inches (R-12) fire-rated mineral wool batt and 3.5 inches (R-13) foilfaced fiberglass batt for a total of R-52.6. The garage ceiling has a R-50.7 closed-cell spray foam plus R-15 batt.

The roof also contains cool roof shingles with SRI 29, roof-mounted fixed 7.44 kW PV panels and OSHA-approved permanent footing anchors. Insulations on the roof provided a total of R-52.6 of insulation in the main roof assembly.
Below the home’s exterior, footings are made of concrete that includes a waterproof additive. The foundation sits on an 8-inch bed of trap rock; on its walls a copper flashing termite barrier enveloping the bottom of the rigid foam.

With an electric car charging station, fun and fancy features also envelope the home life at the Performance House. Also installed in the garage is a timer-controlled exhaust fan with nearby, on-site recycling for construction debris.

Completely enveloped by green building practices and filled to the brim with eclectic home accessories and features, the Performance House is sure to please green home buyers all across the nation.

Carly Caumiant is an editorial assistant for Green Home Builder. She can be reached at

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