Back to the Future: A guest cabin near Yellowstone asks, “What’s the style of sustainability?”

Posted on September 21, 2010

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Best Green Houses
Dan Joseph Architects
By David Sokol,Via:greensource.construction.com

Readers located in the Rocky Mountain region of North America may have spotted the most recent issue of Mountain Living magazine, which announced that Headwaters Camp, a 1,800-square-foot, LEED-Platinum guest cabin located in Big Sky, Montana, had won one of the magazine’s Responsible Development Awards. The accolades seem fitting for Mountain Living, which covers a whole spectrum of homes but regularly features designs with traditional trappings. The house’s maker, Daniel Turvey, advocates for inclusion here, too.

Sustainability is generally conflated with a Modernist aesthetic, says the Bozeman, Montana–based architect, adding, “I think sustainability works in all vernaculars. Sustainable practice can be exercised on every level.” With Headwaters Camp, sustainability has been paired to a rusticity inspired by the National Park Service architecture of Stanley Underwood and Robert Reamer…

Best Green Houses: Headwaters Camp
Photo © Audrey Hall

…Turvey says that, while his past projects have incorporated passive sustainable strategies as a nod to good design generally, he has not had the opportunity to prove his claim with active green technologies. For Headwaters Camp, clients Melissa and Todd Thomson insisted upon LEED certification, and considered active technology from the start—mandating fishing ponds and streams with enough capacity to permit a closed-loop heating and cooling system for Headwaters Camp and a yet unbuilt main house. Large enough, in this case, tops 1 million gallons…
Best Green Houses: Headwaters Camp
Photo © Audrey Hall 

…In addition to that water-source heat pump, Headwaters Camp utilizes an air-exchange system, recycles graywater for dual-flush toilets and irrigation uses, and includes a photovoltaic array mounted to the roof of an adjacent barn as well as a firebox and chimney chase that block air infiltration…
Best Green Houses: Headwaters Camp
Photo © Audrey Hall
…The house is tight in all respects, also sporting triple-glazed windows and closed-cell spray-foam and batt-overlay insulation…

Best Green Houses: Headwaters Camp
Photo © Audrey Hall

…To stave off the elements, Turvey performed a sleight of hand, using traditional stick-frame construction for Headwaters Camp and then appliquéing its signature logs and stone…
Best Green Houses: Headwaters Camp
Photo © Audrey Hall

…The exception, Turvey says, is “the expression on the front side of the building, where log assemblies hold up the prow.” The overall fabrication prevents insects from becoming houseguests, and the log-cabin elements hide the wide-flange ridge beam, moment frame, shear panels, and other features that bear seismic and dead loads…
Best Green Houses: Headwaters Camp

Photo © Audrey Hall

…Headwaters Camp was able to score several LEED points based on the Yellowstone-style finishes themselves. While the exterior includes standing-dead timbers and trees collected from the site and from a nearby mountain range, some of the dimensional exterior rafters were salvaged from a recently demolished school in British Columbia. The logs’ skins clad the roof of the residence’s outdoor room, and the remaining wood scraps were chipped and sent to a biomass power plant in Idaho, at the Thomson’s expense…


Photo © Audrey Hall

…Indeed, reclamation was responsible for Headwaters Camp’s characteristic look and feel. Dimensional timber, barnwood siding, an antique painted hutch, a trough once used for kneading dough, and perhaps most spectacularly, an array of shed antlers (comprising the interior stair’s balusters) are among the reused materials that clad almost every square foot of Headwaters Camp Turvey takes most pride in these features, not only because they support an ecological mission or cement a lineage with historic park buildings, but also support the artisans and small businesses of Montana.

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