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Of all the things guzzling up resources in the average person’s life, it’s not the SUV in the driveway or gas grill on the patio topping the list, it’s their house—except for this architect’s. Wayne Turett, founder of design firm the Turett Collaborative, built a passive house on the North Fork of Long Island that’s ultra–energy efficient. Although green-minded renovations can be expensive, life after the fact is not: Turett spends just $1,700 to power his 2,400-square-foot home, compared to the average 900-square-foot apartment in nearby New York City, which demands nearly $1,400. All of the energy-saving options he’s brought into the planning process saves the family an average of $3,645 every year. 

Turett maximized the natural resources at his disposal to cut back on the need for electrical lighting and HVAC. Large windows also let in more sunshine, so less artificial lighting is required during the day. The attic is outfitted with an HVAC complete with air filter, therefore breezes coming in are purified. All openings have been carefully installed to seal as much air as possible inside to insulate the rooms. The result: The building consumes about 75 percent less energy than the average new project. 

Specially ordered parts were also brought in during construction to adhere to the architect’s sustainability mission, like a variable refrigerant flow heat pump to lower his monthly energy bills over time; ZIP panel sheathing on the exterior to further lock in air; and an aluminum roof that won’t melt snow in the colder months, thereby keeping the home better insulated. On the exterior, Turett installed awnings that conserve any heat that does escape through the doorways in winter and provide a shady spot to hang out in the warmer months. The modern barn-like home took three years to come to life, with the family living there for more than a year now. 

The most important part of the house’s design, however, was to make it livable for the family. The living room, kitchen, and dining room are all on the second floor under the cathedral ceiling to create one communal area. On the ground level, the three bedrooms and two bathrooms open directly to the outdoors for easy access to the bay, only a five-minute walk away. “[The house] is more than just an oasis for my family,” says Turret. “It is a living model for my clients and meant to inspire others.”