BrightBuilt Barn

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BrightBuilt Barn, is a Net Zero, LEED Platinum home in Rockport, Maine, built in 2008 to demonstrate certain principles of sustainable building design and construction. It was named the Most Innovative Home Project of the Year by the US Green Building Council, and has been featured on numerous green blogs, design magazines, the New York Times, National Public Radio, a documentary film, and an international television news report. It is the subject of a 10-year retrospective review in the upcoming Northeast Sustainable Energy Association annual meeting in March, 2018. [1]

The goals of the team behind BrightBiuilt Barn were two-fold: to demonstrate in a compelling project the principles of sustainable building that the team believed essential for future structures; and to bring together a critical mass of green designers and builders to help create an "ecosystem" of green building in Maine, modeled on the ecosystem of technology startups in Silicon Valley.


The principles guiding the BrightBuilt Barn project were:

1. Quality of Life/Livability - The BBB team felt strongly that many then-extant examples of sustainable buildings were ugly, inconvenient, and uncomfortable to live in. They believed that for sustainable building to be widely adopted, the resulting structures needed to be beautiful, comfortable, and convenient. A great deal of design energy went into making the Barn aesthetically pleasing, as a way to make green building attractive to a wider audience.

2. Sustainability - To be truly sustainable, a building must minimize waste, and minimize carbon footprint. To this end, the Barn used locally sourced materials, manufactured into pre-made panels offsite to be assembled onsite, and was designed to be completely powered by solar energy. In fact, the Barn was designed to produce enough excess electricity to eventually erase the carbon footprint created in building it. The energy requirement for heating the Barn was radically reduced by superinsulating the structure to R-40, approximately twice the insulation of conventional homes. The Barn's beauty and modularity made it more likely to be preserved by future owners, thereby avoiding the waste of rebuilding.

3. Replicability - The Barn was conceived as a model for next-stage green building, and as such needed to be replicable. This meant that it had to affordable, use widely available materials, and have a simple , replicable design. The designs, plans, and specifications of all components of the BrightBuilt Barn were released into the public domain, and were freely available online.

4. Disentanglement - Conventionally built houses have their various systems - electical, heating/cooling, plumbing - entangled in crisscrossing lines, which complicates repair and replacement. Eventually, this encourages tearing down and rebuilding, which works against sustainability. The Barn separates all systems into chaseways, making repair and replacement straightforward.

5. Education - Since a major goal of the BrightBhe grid uilt Barn project was to encourage more sustainable building, education of both building professionals and the general public was an important part of the effort. A website was created that laid out the principles, showed photographs of the construction process and the finished building, and included all designs, plans, and specifications.




1. Superinsulation - By insulating the structure far beyond conventional norms, the energy demands for heating were radically reduced, allowing the structure to have no furnace, and still be warm in the fierce winters of Maine.

2. Solar powered - All energy for the Barn is produced by solar power. An array of photovoltaic solar panels on the south-facing roof creates electricity for lighting, the pump for the solar hot water system, and the backup heat pump. The solar panels create enough excess energy to power both the Barn and the conventional home that also sits on the property. Heat is produced by a roof-mounted solar hot water system, backed up by a high-efficiency heat pump.

3. LED lighting - The Barn was a pioneer in using LED lighting to radially reduce the energy demand and material waste associated with incandescent bulbs.

4. Grid tied - Although well designed to exist off the electrical grid is necessary or desired, the Barn is tied to the local electrical grid. It feeds electricity into the grid on sunny days, and draws electricity from the grid at night.




  1. ^
  2. ^ Schwolsky, Rick. "Grand Award: BrightBuilt Barn". ECOBUILDING pulse. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  3. ^ "BrightBuilt Barn Story". 
  4. ^ Alter, Loyd. "BrightBuilt Home introduces line of healthy, net-zero designs". Tree Hugger. Retrieved July 3., 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. ^ Blanco Mullins, Olivia. "A Bright Idea: BrightBuilt Barns". Ogden Publications Inc. Retrieved May–June 2009.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)

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