By: Dirk Perrefort
May 2, 2014
DANBURY — BPC Green Builders is quickly becoming one of the leaders in the region in green building methods.
The company, which is based in Wilton, recently won the Connecticut Zero Energy Challenge for using green construction methods to build a home near Lake Waubeeka in Danbury that uses 90 percent less electricity than the typical house.
It was the third time the company has been recognized in the challenge, which is part of the Energize Connecticut initiative operated by Connecticut Light and Power and United Illuminating.
Mike Trolle, both the homeowner and the owner of the construction company, said much of the energy savings results from creating a tight thermal envelope surrounding the house by increasing the amount of insulation used in the home and minimizing energy loss.
Local builder and home owner Mike Troelle shows off his energy-efficient home near Waubeeka Lake in Danbury, Conn. Thursday, May 1, 2014. Troelle is one of the winners of Connecticut’s Zero Energy Challenge for modifications he made to his home during a major renovation project. Photo: Tyler Sizemore
“Green building isn’t about solar panels and geothermal pumps, but by dramatically reducing the amount of electricity that’s required to operate the home,” said Trolle, who started the company in 1999 because of his interest in environmental construction methods. “You need to make the thermal envelop as energy efficient as possible. Then you can start to think about solar panels.”
Trolle said he built the home to Passive Housestandards, a certification in use for decades in Europe that is beginning to catch on locally. A Passive House is one that is well insulated, virtually air tight and uses passive solar gain and ambient heat sources to supplement a small heat pump.
During the coldest month this past winter, Trolle said it cost him about $60 to heat the 1,600 square foot, three bedroom home.
“For the entire winter our heating costs were about $250,” he said. “The home’s heat load is about half a ton or 6,000 btu’s, which is equivalent to the size of a small window air conditioning unit.”
“Mike built a home that gets as close to zero energy usage as possible without the use of renewables,” said Enoch Lange, an energy efficiency expert with Connecticut Light and Power and Yankee Gas that oversees the challenge. “BPC Builders is definitely one of the leaders in green building and zero energy construction methods.”
Lange noted that the home Trolle recently completed shows that significant energy savings is something that’s possible for the average homeowner.
“It takes a little attention to detail and a willingness to think outside the box,” he said. “Builders say it’s about 10 percent more expensive than average construction methods.”
Lange noted that in 2012 there weren’t any homes in the state that were certified as Passive Homes, while today there are four, including Trolle’s, and several more are under construction.
“It’s an idea that is really starting to catch on,” he said.
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