An exciting project is taking shape on 30 peaceful acres in Freeport, Maine. First of its kind in the state, Baird Landing, an open space sub-development of net-zero, solar-powered homes, is well underway. These solid and efficient homes are able to be customized for different families, and are heated and cooled with heat pumps powered by the sun, and installed by ReVision Energy.
With home designs ranging from 1200 to 2200 sq ft, and two to three levels, the living environments are modest and comfortable, with beautiful timber-framing visible in the walls and ceilings. All the homes are to be situated facing the southern sky on 1 acre lots, and, while private, they will fit together in the open space design of Baird Landing - conserving land in a way that creates communal green space populated with diverse species of evergreen and deciduous trees.
The builders of Baird Landing, Alex Burnham and Jonathan Lobozzo, have been friends since they were 12, and went into business together as Burnham & Lobozzo Builders in 2013. Alex and Jonathan have always been interested in energy-efficient, high-performance homes, and as they grew their business and accumulated ideas they started to dream up a project where they could create their own building and business model.
They were confident they could build a home that was just as good, or better than any competitor's - and that they could do it more affordably. "We're the developers, designers and builders all under one umbrella," Jonathan, a Bates College graduate, described. "We can build these homes net-zero homes more affordably than another developer who will hire out the different facets of the project"
What does it take to construct an affordable, net-zero home? "It's not terribly complicated," Alex assessed. "One huge aspect: Houses should face south. People used to do it a long time ago, and then they stopped, but we're doing it again. You gain all the energy you need from that."
A home's winter comfort can be simplified to its heat source and insulation. When a home is south-facing - most of its windows oriented south - a great deal of warmth is provided naturally through solar gain.
"On the coldest day of the year, if it's sunny out, it'll be warm enough in there, you won't need extra energy," Alex explained. To complement the solar gain, Alex and Jonathan designed the building envelope of the homes at Baird Landing to be tight, retaining plenty of warmth, but not over-engineered, to keep costs down.
With heat pumps that can efficiently heat and cool these already very comfortable spaces, the solar panels that ReVision is also installing on the standing seam metal roofs at Baird Landing are able to generate all the electricity the homes need - which is the simple success of a net-zero home.
To make net-zero homes that are affordable for anyone has been Alex and Jonathan's ambition. "We believe in creating a shelter that works for people, affordably. That's the biggest part of this, the average person needs this kind of home, too. We're going to move more and more in that direction - this is Round 1."
These ideas are truly coming to light at Baird Landing, where the first home was quickly sold, the second is under contract, and the third that is nearing completion has already received plenty of early interest. Baird Landing's realtor, Lois Lengyel, spoke of the first family to move in, "Our first buyers came from Portland, a couple with a small baby, and they are so excited with their purchase. They moved in December, and said the heat pumps worked perfectly through the long stretch of sub-zero temperatures."
Lois is excited for Alex and Jonathan, throwing full support behind what she knows will be the home of the future. On top of the natural charm of Baird Landing, where residents will feel connected to the woods and starry night skies, they will also enjoy renewable energy's quiet comfort. Lois knows that Alex and Jonathan have the experience to make many cozy, high-performance homes, beyond Baird Landing. "It's been wonderful to hear the design is working! We're very supportive of Alex and Jonathan having a successful endeavor. I believe this project is just the first of many for them."
Join Lois and Legacy Properties Sotheby's International Realty at Baird Landing for an Open House on June 2 nd from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. The address is 8 Peter Robin Way in Freeport, ME, and all are welcome to visit this solar-powered, net-zero home.