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November 6, 2021

Beyond R-Value: Insulation and the Zero-Energy Home

Fall is one of the prettiest times of year in New Jersey, but changing leaves, harvest moons, and chilly weather remind us that colder days are ahead. Like all homeowners, Deborah and Jason D. had to settle on the type of insulation material for Cold Brook Farm. However, as with so many construction decisions around the zero-energy home, the choice of insulation—seemingly pedestrian—took an unexpected turn. 
May 19, 2021

The Zero Energy Home: Learning to Be the Change

With a void of practical information and a lack of legislative incentives to build to this standard, homeowners that choose to go the zero energy home route often forge their own paths. Cold Brook Farm has been no exception.
March 10, 2021

Building the Passive House Legacy Through Responsible Land Stewardship

During the numerous conversations we had about what we wanted from this next chapter of our lives, when it came to our role as landowners, we had very specific things in mind. We wanted to be good stewards. We knew our role would be a temporary one; the land would remain long after we were gone and we wanted to protect it and improve its health—enhance its biodiversity, revitalize its soil, and remove the invasive plants and plant native ones. But, we also planned to build a house.
January 5, 2021

The Passive House Building Envelope: Thermal Windows and a Great View

Wickedly cold winters, summer days with temperatures that reach into the 90s, and large swings in humidity have provided the perfect backdrop over the course of a century for the evolution of an innovative, premium window product that is now part of the building envelope for Cold Brook Farm. 
October 2, 2020

The Passive House: Giving Back to the Community by Sourcing Local

During a time when many small businesses are collapsing under the weight of the global pandemic, “source local” is a philosophy that has become more important than ever. Well before the COVID-19 pandemic began, Jason and Deborah detailed an original concept for the project and their intention to use materials to build the home that were sustainable and produced or harvested within 500-miles of the property.
July 14, 2020

In Pursuit of the Passive House

As I sketched out a new rendering of the homestead, lifestyle and convenience certainly remained factors, but were no longer the primary drivers of the design. The priorities of the passive house would be guided by sustainability, energy-efficiency and the home’s integration with the land surrounding it.
May 22, 2020

“Designing” Land Using the Science of Permaculture

Permaculture integrates the mindful stewardship of the land with our daily way of living. It is about marrying the way the land will be planted and used by the people living there.
March 31, 2020

Creating a Homestead in the Heart of New Jersey

Having spent 39 years in real estate, I am no stranger to conversations about moving from the hustle and bustle of a town or city to the open spaces afforded by the countryside. Sometimes, people tell me they want a certain type of home—a stately Georgian, charming Victorian or sprawling country estate. Other times, they talk to me about land—a property with elevation, rolling hills, or surrounded by a woodland. When I first met Jason and Deborah, I recall thinking that I had never spoken with two people so determined to find both—the right house and parcel of land–in their pursuit of a modern homestead, where life is just as much about the land as the home.
February 28, 2020

The Small House: A Blueprint for Sustainable Living and Property Stewardship in the 21st Century

As I think back to October of last year, when I first drove down a narrow dirt road and got a glimpse of the 43-acre parcel of land that would be the site for a new home, I knew then that this project would be different. Having been an architect for 25 years, my firm has designed and constructed many different styled homes. However, clients rarely ever challenged me to design a house that holistically integrated with the land around it. Ultimately, I was told, the project must leave the land better than it was before. “We are merely stewards of the land while we are here,” my client, Jason, said to me, and with these words, I was tasked to create a structure with permanence ever conscious of our transience on earth.