A Pretty Good House in Maine
This home’s low energy bills speak louder than any performance certificate.
Synopsis: This article by homeowner Stephen Sheehy discusses why the informal Pretty Good House (PGH) concept made better sense for his home in terms of cost/benefit than going through a program with a formal certification process. The aim of a PGH is to identify sensible and attainable solutions to performance and design goals. A panel describes specific PGH criteria the Sheehy’s home exhibits. The home was designed by architect Jesse Thompson of Kaplan Thompson Archtects in Portland, Maine, who is one of the originators of the PGH, and he describes what one is and is not in a sidebar on the concept.
Like many people approaching retirement age, my wife and I decided that it was time to downsize. At more than 4000 sq. ft., our home of 22 years was much too big for us. We selected a building site alongside our existing house in Alna, Maine, a small town of 700 people near the coast, that offered views of a small pond and fields beyond.
I’d done a lot of research into modern building practices and materials, and I wanted our new house to be cheap to operate and easy to maintain — while also being nice to look at and to live in.
Lots of organizations will certify a house based on whether it meets particular standards for efficiency, including LEED, Energy Star, and Passive House. While these certification programs have aided in the development of technologies and construction processes and spurred the creation of many new products, certification itself comes at a significant financial cost. Someone needs to be paid to certify that the claimed efficiencies have been realized, and it may be necessary to spend extra money to meet the standard, even though some expenses may not be recouped through energy savings.
Certification certainly didn’t make…