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Banana Farm Summer 2009

Amory’s Private Residence

For many supporters and visitors, Rocky Mountain Institute is synonymous with Amory’s private residence in Old Snowmass, Colorado. Completed in 1984 and upgraded continually since then, the 4,000-square-foot facility remains a showcase of efficiency ideas. Over the years, this house has received more than one hundred thousand visitors.

 

HISTORY

Constructed between June 1982 and January 1984, the building was something of an experiment. It was designed to make the most of the energy efficiency and alternative energy technologies available at that time.

The building cost $500,000 to build, or $130 per square foot (in 1984 dollars), which was the approximate market rate for homes in and around Aspen. This cost included land and extensive built-in furniture.

The energy and water efficiency technologies cost an additional $6,000 but saved $19 per day, resulting in a ten-month payback. Most importantly, many of the design strategies used in this building can be applied to a variety of building types, including commercial developments.

More than three decades later, the building is still one of the most efficient around. Many of the basic architectural concepts in use here have become standard sustainable design principles, and many of the technologies used here are more readily available than they were in the early 1980s.

In 2007, the latest edition of a comprehensive tour guide was produced, detailing all of the home’s features and how they contribute to its performance. Since then, however, the home has undergone a state-of-the-art renovation designed to demonstrate how much more energy efficient homes can become—and that homes can truly be fossil-fuel free.

BUILDING DETAILS

Exterior

The building is superinsulated, solar heated, and so good at capturing and retaining heat that it offers livable conditions without a furnace.

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Interior

From daylighting to radiant heating to efficient appliances, the building is superefficient.

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Greenhouse

The greenhouse is the “furnace” for the building, providing all the heat that's needed for the entire building most of the year.

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