How One Aspen House Lives Up to LEED
The Aspen residence of architects Sarah Broughton and John Rowland aims to leave the pristine local landscape intact. "Every drop of water that lands on the property finds its way to the bocce ball court, which is our storm-water filtration system," Rowland says. "By the time it leaves, and heads to the aquifer, it’s as pure as it can get."
The couple’s house is LEED Gold certified, a rating they achieved by taking into account a number of considerations: They designed the structure so that a large tree in the front yard could be retained; construction was executed to minimize erosion and site impact; and the house itself has high-efficiency plumbing fixtures, among other features. Photovoltaic panels provide about 60 percent of the abode’s energy.
The residents have wired their mechanical room and solar technology to a Savant home automation system, which they use to keep an eye on the home’s performance. They’ve configured the system’s app to deliver a breakdown of the dwelling’s energy usage in a pie chart. "Last spring, when we were starting to open the windows, I looked at it and said, ‘Oh my gosh, the humidifier is running full-time, and it’s the largest energy hog right now,’" Rowland says. "It was time to turn it off." He notes that they also closely monitor another culprit so it doesn’t run unnecessarily: The heat tape used in the gutters to prevent snow buildup is a big draw.
The house is optimized for gatherings. A guest apartment equipped with bunk beds sits under the garage, and a wall of sliding doors from Weiland enables indoor/outdoor functions—Broughton and Rowland once hosted a 25-person dinner party that seamlessly stretched from the dining room to the patio, thanks to tables set up in both places. Technology aids in the couple’s entertaining: Big music fans, they use the Savant system to stream audio across the property. Keyless door locks from Schlage hook up to the Savant setup, and the duo can assign visitors guest codes that will expire after they leave. But the couple purposely steered away from additional automation features—such as connected thermostats—to avoid confusing guests who aren’t familiar with the systems.
For themselves, though, Broughton and Rowland value the ability to ensure that their house is living up to its green rating. "I wish more of our clients would use tech to understand their consumption," Rowland says. "A lot of people don’t even pay attention, and things are just running. As architects, we need to be in tune with that."