Happy Meadows House

The “Happy Meadows” Courtyard House, designed by Arielle Schechter, is a labor of love between the clients, architect and builder. The project represents a shared vision for what we consider to be the apex of housing. It combines the application of the most up-to-date energy modeling and building science with an artful, modern aesthetic.  We hope this home provides a vision for how all housing will be built in the future. It is truly the embodiment of the “New Fire” of energy efficiency and renewables that Amory Lovins touts as our path toward energy independence. 

The home is a net-positive energy home, designed to provide a surplus of energy sufficient to charge an electric car. It is certified to the rigorous Passive House standard, Department of Energy Challenge Home, Energy Star v.3, and is projected to qualify for Emerald, the highest possible, on the National Association of Homebuilders Green Builders’ Standard. Fears of how tight homes were plagued by poor indoor air quality are allayed through the use of an Energy Recovery Ventilator and participation in the EPA Indoor airPlus program. In fact, this house follows every EPA recommendation for indoor air quality.

The house is situated on a gentle south facing slope and embraces both the warmth of the sun and the pastoral beauty of “Happy Meadows”, as the owners refer to their slice of bucolic beauty.


Our Klearwall windows arrived along with the factory certified installer, George Evans. The windows were in good shape, minus one good scratch on a frame, and were as heavy as advertised! Several of the windows and doors were over 400 pounds. They feel and look substantial, and gave the house a sense of shelter that was lacking with the big openings in the wall. George has done a great job of installing the windows, and is confident that the blower door will demonstrate the attention to detail that he has put into the install. (preliminary blower door results were around .4 ACH at 50 pascals pre-sheetrock!)

“Magic Sheetrock”- We were insulated up and ready for sheetrock when the homeowner discovered a new product by Certainteed, AirRenew Essential Sheetrock. The sheetrock has a proprietary chemical embedded in it that locks onto volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde, and converts them into an inert compound that is stored in the sheetrock! It has been independently tested by UL and Greenguard and is modeled to continue working for 75 years. Pretty darn cool. Given that it is new product that is not readily available, we had to wait a few weeks for the sheetrock to arrive, but we felt that air purifying sheetrock would be worth the wait.

Negative HERS! Our energy rater, Jamie Hager of Southern Energy Management, informed us that the Happy Meadows Courtyard House has a -1 HERS score with the PV array! We are all very excited and proud to be working on a house that is modeled to be net positive- very cool.

CERV- The Happy Meadows house is the first in the state to use a cutting edge ERV from Build Equinox that is a Conditioning ERV (CERV). The benefit in this climate is clear- when it is hot and humid outside, a standard ERV pumps that air in as fresh air. The heat is exchanged, but the humidity of the outdoor air is largely passed through. The CERV conditions and dehumidifies the incoming fresh air before introducing the air to the indoor environment. It is also much more “intelligent” than a standard ERV. It allows the user to set thresholds for humidity, CO2 and VOCs. If you pay for the optional “CERVICE”, you can monitor your indoor air quality in real time.

Happy Meadows was selected as one of three finalists for the 2014 Sustainable Home of the Year in North Carolina by the U.S. Green Builders’ Council and was nominated by Southern Energy Management as Green Home of the Year.  

The home was recently featured in New Homes & Ideas Magazine.  View the article here.

Feel free to contact Newphire Building with questions about this home.