A New Norris House / Sustainable Design


The New Norris House project is a registered LEED for Homes Platinum project, the highest certification standard for homes recognized by the US Green Building Council. In 2013, The American Institute of Architects and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) selected A New Norris House as one of ten national recipients of its Top Ten Green Projects Awards.

Stewardship and innovation for the betterment of society were at the center of the original Norris project and are at the core of sustainable design. The team re-examined founding TVA ideals to develop principles for design of a contemporary home and landscape, including:

01 Meaningful design synthesizes performance and aesthetic experience
02 Built and natural environments and systems ideally augment one another
03 Realization requires architects and landscape architects, engineers, planners and craftsman work collaboratively, and
04 Vernacular lessons combine with technical innovation to develop “place”

In contrast to the TVA’s hallmark achievement – central power, water and waste services for each home – the NNH seeks to first passively manage needs and, second, to manage needs on-site. A previously developed site, the infill project is connected to existing central systems but frequently operates independently where cost effective. The project uses the enduring fascination with the historic cottages and land-use plan to compel home-buyers to consider compact living. At 1008 sf, A New Norris House is less than half the size of the median house and sited on a .30 acre lot. Rightsizing reduced material and operational loads and costs, and shifted funds to quality design and construction, passive strategies and high efficiency systems.

Half the area of a median house, the project reduces delivered and embodied energy and carbon through compactness. A robust envelope (R-30 walls, R-42 roof, R-24 crawl), cross ventilation, useful solar gain, and mitigation of unwanted solar gain maximize passive design and minimize use of high-efficiency mechanical systems. A dormer shutter induces stack ventilation and a solar hot water panel is concealed on its roof. A tankless electric heater boosts stored hot water as needed. A tight envelope and ERV also limit energy use.

Selected Findings
Observed Annual EUI: 26.8kBtu/sf *
Energy Use Intensity (EUI) Reduction from National Avg: 48.7% **
Home Energy Rating (HERS) Index: 49

* As measured over course of study period to date. Based on 1008sf (768sf living area + 240sf loft).
** Based on 2171SF average home size and 2005 US EIA Residential Energy Use Report of 94.9 MMBTU/yr/household