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Spring into Green!
We want to thank you for your interest and support of our continuous efforts to stay green and create home designs that take advantage of the sun’s free heat and light.

How will you welcome Spring into your life this year? Watching the sun rise exactly due east? Watching the sun set due west? Or feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin while you are inside a sunny room in your house? Are you still dreaming about how to begin (or continue) the process of creating a sun-inspired home? If so, we hope that you will let us help!

In this e-newsletter, you will find information regarding:
– Sun Plan’s Blueprint Clunker Trade In Program (including a new outlook on Daylight Basements)
– A Note from a New Sun Plan’s Home Owner
– Options for Create-A-SunPlan and Adapt-A-SunPlan 3D services
– Northern Sun Case Study & Using our CAD Files
– A Peak at the Soon-to-be-Released New Sun Plans Web site
– Notice of Price Increases in April


Although spring is green, there may be a lack of green in many pocketbooks with the economic downturn. Clients are returning to us for smaller home designs. Some have found that the house plan they had purchased from us was really too large for not only their wallet, but also their lifestyle. After careful consideration, they decided some spaces were not needed.

Sun Plans now has a clunker program where you can trade in your previously purchased Blueprints or CAD Files for a smaller house plan for an exchange fee. When asked which are our most energy-efficient house plans, we continue to give the same answer: “The smallest!”

One customer’s e-mail reminded us of the need to point out how daylight basements can be the MOST energy efficient spaces. We appreciate our customers’ attention to detail, especially when they find the occasional mistake in our book or drawings. (It’s hard to admit not being perfect!) In our book, page 65, the first page of Chapter 6 on Tips for Browsing Sun-Inspired House Plans should read:

“If land slopes to allow for south windows in a daylight basement, south basement rooms can be sunny. The north areas can be partially earth-bermed. This can be the LEAST costly and MOST energy efficient location for secondary living areas and bedrooms.”

Both the Fernwood (photos shown above) and the French Cowgirl (photo shown below) are good examples of utilizing a daylight basement. (Thanks Mike and Mary, Conni and Craig for sharing your photos!)

Click to see more about the Fernwood.

Conni and Craig looked through house plan after house plan. Being outdoor people and having three children on the downhill side of growing up, they sensibly realized that they only needed a small home. Unfortunately, there was not a small enough plan on the Sun Plan’s Web to meet their needs and their budget. They could have “settled for” the relatively small first floor of Fernwood with its 1484 s.f., but instead chose to Create-A-SunPlan. They saved over 300 s.f. with a custom design. That was almost $50,000 worth of first floor and daylight basement square feet. The Sun Plan’s design fee was less than 20% of that which saved them over $40,000. That sums up one of our primary goals with custom design – to save you money in construction costs.

In addition to the quote from their letter, Conni also shared:

“We’ve been in the house since Sept. 27th and we LOVE it! It has performed amazingly well. We’ve had an exceptionally cold winter and it’s so nice to come home to a cozy, warm house – often over 70 degrees Fahrenheit – when it’s been below zero all day (and the heat is free!) After working on this house, our heating guy is sold on passive solar and highly recommends it to others. We’re comfortable when just the 2 of us are home, yet the house handles crowds well too (30+ for a 4-H mtg/lunch, 16 for Thanksgiving, etc.) There was never a “breaking-in” stage; this house immediately felt like home.”

Needless to say, these kinds of letters make our day!

See the floor plans of the French Cowgirl.

Increasingly, clients would like to see more color 2D and 3D options when we are working with them either in creating a new design or in adapting an older one. The above images illustrate some of the drawings that we can create with our custom services.

Just this week, a client sent us a note after we created 3D drawing when they could not decide between a brick exterior or stone and siding: “We have never been through the process before!! Guynn said to tell you thanks for doing both [3D] models. We are both visual so seeing the two options really helped a lot.” – Suzanne

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.

    The more user-friendly Sun Plans’ website is in it’s final stages. Thanks to your insightful feedback, we’ve decided to add a few extra features before releasing it in a few weeks. (If you have been hoping for new house plans though, sorry, you will have to wait as we’ve decided to postpone adding plans until after our busy spring season.)

    A few of the new Sun Plans features will include:


    Soon you will have the ability to create a list of your favorite plans that you are considering purchasing, adapting, or referencing when you start your own Create-A-SunPlan.


    Do you find a particular feature of the new Web site hard to navigate or confusing? Or do you wish there was different information on the page you are viewing? Soon there will be a way to quickly let us know!

    Contact Us!

    You will soon be able to contact us quickly from any Web site page. The new user-friendly form will collect pertinent information so that we can respond more appropriately based on what stage you are in of the planning process and what you have already purchased from us.

    We have not increased our prices in about two years (or some items it’s been much longer than that) ,but we will be doing so shortly – but not before April 15th!

    Our book will be priced the same. We will continue to credit the price paid for a Construction Review Set ordered in the past (or future) when an order is placed for Blueprints or CAD Files.

    Visit our Online Store.

    When you email us about our various products and services, Alicia will be able to help   you!

    Happy Spring Equinox!
    We hope that yours is green in every sense of the word!

    Sun Plans Inc.
    Debra Coleman, Architect, AIA
    Author of
    The Sun-Inspired House: house designs warmed and brightened by the sun
    Customer Service:
    Sun-Inspired Design: the gold lining of green building

    July 2018
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