A Sun Plans’ customer built a variation of the Northern Sun design from the  CAD files in the Pacific North-west. Their goal was to create a net-zero energy building by creating as much energy as they consumed. This basic premise was important to them because the building also houses their for-profit conservation organization.

The site selected allowed them to orient the home’s longer axis east-west for solar gain. Their home qualified for numerous federal tax credits and for funding from the Energy Trust of Oregon.

“The [Northern Sun] house was designed to be tight, inexpensive to operate, aggressive in taking advantage of sunlight, progressively green, and aesthetically pleasing. It excels at each of these objectives. While the owners do not yet know if it will be a truly net-zero energy home, it will definitely come very close.” [Green + Solar, Building Oregon 2008]


  • Triple-pane argon filled Thermo-Tech windows,with multiple latch points
  • Super insulated ceilings, floors,and walls
  • Insulated exterior doors with multiple latch points
  • Very low air leakage (via blower door test)
  • Insulated window shades
  • Energy recovery ventilator
  • Whole house fan
  • High-place ventilating windows for stack effect
  • Premium efficient tax credit-qualified appliances (better than Energy Star)
  • CFLs or T-5 lights throughout
  • “Variable Frequency” high-efficiency well pump
  • Passive solar design
  • High-solar gain windows on south side.
  • Solar mass in floor and dining room wall
  • Rheem solar water tank – 120 gallons
  • 50-year recyclable metal roof
  • Paperstone FSC-certified paper countertops
  • Interior doors consist of 85% wheat straw and 15% exterior wood veneer
  • Low and no-toxicity/VOC coatings and finishes
  • HardiePlank™ cement and wood-fiber siding

    We had suspected that this client went well beyond the normal standard of care in paying attention to energy details, and when we later saw two articles by them in Home Power magazine, we were convinced of it! Some customers choose to have us assist them with project details through our custom services while others like Andy prefer (and seem to enjoy!) doing more of the research and project planning themselves. CAD Files from Sun Plans make that possible.

    See the Northern Sun floor plan.