Saving green by building green |

Saving green by building green

Summit Daily/Kristin Skvorc Creator of a hay bale house in Summiy Cove, Evan Kelly uses a chainsaw to trim hay Sept. 13. The hay must be trimmed so the wall becomes a flat surface.

SUMMIT COVE – This isn’t a story about three little pigs – Evan Kelly really is building a house of straw. But he’s not worried about a big bad wolf, or a big bad winter to dampen his den.His evolving home, featuring straw-bale walls, is surrounded by mounds of straw and has become a favorite along Summit Cove’s Climax Drive for neighborhood kids and gawkers.Kelly is certain he’s hated by every mom in the neighborhood when their children return home covered in straw. Passers by, he said, have to be a bit perplexed.

“It’s pretty odd, I’ll give them that,” he said. If he’s considered the local wack-job, his reputation won’t improve when he paints his stucco-sided home with fertilizer. But Kelly may just have the last laugh. His 1,200-foot straw-bale home is an example – be it non-traditional – of a number of ways Summit County builders are saving money and energy building in the High Country.

Michael Roth’s energy-efficient homes aren’t cheaper to build than traditional homes, but energy bills are another story.Roth, a partner at Breckenridge’s Trilogy Partners, said the thick Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) his company installs create “a very tight house” that seals the heat. Trilogy’s customers have the luxury of being less cost-concerned when building a home, so the eight or 10 year pay-back of the more expensive panels can be appealing.”What I try to do is include (energy efficiency) in a complete package,” he said. “A lot of our clients come from California. They’ve been willing to pay a little bit more money to build an energy efficient home.”

The concept behind the thick SIP panels is the same as Kelly’s 16-inch straw walls, sealed with an inch of cement stucco on either side. He anticipates paying a minimum to the power company each month.Larry Kelly, Evan’s father, who’s been working with his son on the home since May, said if he was to reveal how much the home will cost in the end, nobody would believe him. He would say, however, that the fertilizer “paint-job” on the home’s exterior would run around $25 and that the home was being constructed for “well under $100 per-square-foot.”SIP panels aren’t the only way Roth’s thinking green. The timber-framed homes he builds are essentially recyclable. When the house has run its course, he said, the frame can be transported to a new location. The same can be said for the re-purposed wood he pulls from old barns in the Midwest.

“A lot of guys, yeah, they’re used to looking at the bottom line,” he said. “When you talk about energy efficiencies, it also flows over into that whole environmental thing.”Chris Kornelis can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 216, or at

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