Frisco townhome improvements shoot for zero-energy footprint |

Frisco townhome improvements shoot for zero-energy footprint

summit daily news
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

FRISCO – The owner of a Frisco townhome tore out its guts recently to replace them with some of the most energy-efficient innards on the market.

From insulating spray-foam and triple-paned glass to controlled air infiltration, Energy Star appliances and more, Chet Pauls is shooting for zero-net energy consumption.

Pauls, an environmental engineer and Boulder resident, said the project is an “opportunity to have a house to enjoy in the mountains and help to minimize its footprint.”

He said the roughly 1,850 square foot home at 7 Hawn Drive was built in 1984. Before the renovation, the home had white walls with brown trim and cabinets.

“It was pretty dated,” he said. “We were one step off from shag carpet.”

The home has four bedrooms with three-and-a-half baths.

In addition to the interior improvements, Pauls has also installed 2 inch thick polystyrene panels for insulation from the exterior – and a 3.68 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system is planned to deliver power from a south-facing area of the roof.

Pauls hopes to have the project complete by May.

“We’ll find out when we’re done how close we got,” he said of the net-zero goal.

Another structure aiming for net-zero energy consumption is taking shape at 238 Timber Trail Road in Breckenridge. It’s an 8,000 square foot home to be complete by the end of August.

The Summit Daily intends to follow up with both projects to find how close their innovative additions brought them to the lofty goal.

Pauls said his townhome will be sealed so well that a special mechanical heat-recovery ventilator will be used to help it breathe in fresh air.

“You don’t want to wind up with a house that’s too tight,” he said.

The insulation he’s using includes closed-cell foam in the attic trusses and open-cell foam in the walls.

The foam insulates as well as helps to cut down on air escaping or entering the structure.

Frank Parrish, general manager with Rocky Mountain Spray Foam and Waterproofing, said closed-cell foam insulation is useful to retrofit structures and has the “highest R-value of any on the market.”

R-value is the capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow; the higher the R-value, the more powerful the insulation.

This townhome’s walls are to have an R-value of 31 while the closed-cell-insulated areas – in attic penetrations and around windows and doors – are to have an R-value of 60.

The low-density, water-blown polyurethane foam sticks to the areas where it’s sprayed.

“It will work and save money for the life of the structure,” Parrish said.

Air leakage, he said, comprises 40 percent of the average heating bill.

Pauls said the home will be tested to determine just how tightly its sealed once the construction is finished. To test for tightness, air is sucked out of the house and the difference in pressure is measured, Pauls said.

Pauls said he’s not sure how much all the improvements will cost, but the solar panels are about $9,000, including rebates, and the spray foam work is about $12,000.

Low-flow plumbing fixtures and Energy Star-rated appliances are planned for installation at the townhome. Pauls also anticipates meeting the strict guidelines to have the home achieve an Energy Star-rating.

Among other improvements:

– Replacing an existing free-standing, wood-burning fireplace with a direct vented gas fireplace that is 83 percent efficient and doesn’t use room air for the combustion chamber

– Replacing the electric water heater with a gas water heater

– Mostly compact-fluorescent or LED lights

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or

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