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The color of the Season is GREEN!! The color of the Sun is GOLD!!

The rich scent of evergreens and the bright glow of sunshine, they both brighten our spirit. As we celebrate the Winter Holidays, we thank you for supporting SunPlans. We truly enjoy providing the house design services and products that add the gold lining to green building through the sun’s free heat and light.

Below in our Winter Holiday Newsletter, you will find:
– Featured Brighton Bungalow home, new photos added
– Tour one of our homes featured on TV, a variation of the Equinox Homestead
– Custom Design / Create-A-SunPlan Schedule
– A Glimpse of our New SunPlans Web Site, more user friendly
– New House Plans Posted, four of various sizes and styles


Thanks to homeowners, Mark & Valerie, we have some wonderful photos of the newly constructed Brighton Bungalow! It is spacious, with a delightful, modest appeal. The quaint, angled entry porch makes for inviting drive approaches from the south.

As do most SunPlans homeowners, they customized the home for their land and personal preferences. The plan is reversed with the entry on the southwest corner. The open staircase and nearby hearth are the primary interior design features which were tweaked to their liking.

They started the process of prepping the land and designing the house about 4 years ago. Mark explains the process, “While researching ideas for the for style for our house, I found your website and one of your plans, the Brighton Bungalow, struck a cord with my wife and I. We’ve always loved the timeless simplicity of the craftsman style, the coziness of bedrooms tucked into the roof, and the character of the porches…. but found we’d need to alter it…and redesigning the floor plan to fit our family’s casual lifestyle. Our house ended up a hair over 2500sq.ft., not including the basement where I have a finished office. Unfortunately, due to downsizing and the grade of our lot, we couldn’t use the double front stairs of your design which were so charming.”

And they explained some of the particular items they used:
“The house uses 6″ core Nudura ICF for the basement, 6-1/2″ SIPs for the main floor, and injected, dense-pack cellulose along with some blow-in cellulose for the roof and garage.

The main sub-floor is a stepped down for the entire south half of the house, supporting 2″ of gypcrete surfaced with tile for thermal mass. 98% Trane natural gas furnace and Rheem High efficiency hot water. All lighting is either T5 or CFL.

The home received a Energy Star 5+ with a HERS score of 50 (an excellent score)! The owners had to do extensive research on LoE glass coatings and had numerous discussions with engineers at both Cardinal IG and Pella to get a windows with glazing units that have both a low-U-factor and a high SHGC.

Standard coating for northern climates are no different than those for every other climate – a shortfall in the energy star rating system. We were able to special order windows with a coating used by Pella’s commercial division which yielded the desired results.”

The Energy Star rating of 50 is on a scale of 100 so you can see that they are saving approximately 50% compared to a standard code-built home in their area.

GNB Builders in British Columbia Canada made some delightful one-story changes to our Equinox Homestead design.

“GNB Builders is proud to have achieved Built Green Platinum…. GNB Builder’s clients were very progressive in their homes design and building practices to allow for a very energy efficient and healthy home. This home is prepped to go off the grid.

* Energuide rating is 84 with 160 Built Green Points = Platinum
* Estimated annual cost for heating, hot water, lighting, appliances $1200

Key Features of this Platinum Built Green Home in the moderate climate of British Columbia, Canada include:

* Passive Solar Design – facing true south
* Milgard Fiberglass windows – highly efficient
* Increased insulation, R22 in walls (instead of R20) and R48 in the ceiling (instead of R40)
* Thermo insulated mass floor with Rigid insulation – R 7.5
* Geothermal radiant in-floor heating and cooling – Water to water geoExchange Heat Pump
* Electronic air cleaner with Electronically Commutated Motor
* 50 year Metal roof
* Rain water collection system with a 1600 Litre water cistern
* Smart framing practices with engineered products
* Recycled products throughout home
* Reclaimed wood floors and mantle
* No VOC Benjamin Moore paint
* Cement shake board for low maintenance and longevity
* Light fixtures all using LED or CFLs
* Dual low flush toilets
* Prepped for [Active] Solar”

Click here to watch the movie – it takes about 3 minutes to download.

Have a little spare time during the holidays? It might be time to start your custom design project. Our initial customer questionnaire is full of questions that assist you in gathering information about your dream home. Devoting time in the initial “creation” phase greatly assists us in fully understanding what is important to YOU.

Keep in mind, Create-A-SunPlan often takes 4 to 12 months to complete. If you don’t have that much time, you may want to Adapt-A-SunPlan to meet your needs. Adapt-A-SunPlan follows a very different process and usually takes 2 to 4 months. In either case, winter is a good time to start the planning process. Typically, our lead time for starting any custom work can become very long in the spring and summer.

It might be time to re-read Chapter 5 – Custom Design Process, Architects and Options, in our book The Sun-Inspired House. The book evolved from the frequently asked questions that have been asked of us about passive solar, passive cooling, energy-efficiency, and green building by homeowners, builders, engineers, and architects over the last 20 years. It is a valuable resource and one that will set you on the right path to building your dream home.

To see more about our book, click here.

Sun Plans and our consultants have been busy developing and creating a more user-friendly Web site!

It is a huge task, but one our fans will surely enjoy. The new site will maintain some of the more popular features like the house plan list as part of the Select-a-SunPlan, but with some new searches and features. It will make the sought after Custom Changes section easier to find in the new Adapt-A-SunPlan. The educational parts will be reorganized under Learn.

The services that we enjoy the most, custom designing homes where you will spend the majority of the rest of your life, will now be show-cased under Create-A-SunPlan.

News will provide a way to access our past e-newsletters and more opportunities for homeowners to share their progress and final photos of their new passive solar homes!

Our Open House section will feature exclusive information about completed Sun Plans homes where the homeowners have generously gone out of their way to share both photos and comments about their SunPlans Home.

Watch for the new site to debut in the new year! No promises on the release date just yet, but we hope to have it completed and LIVE prior to the Spring Equinox!

As usual, you can see our newly posted house plans on our House Plan List page. They are marked “New”. We’ve also provided a preview of them below. As with all of the designs on our web site, these designs were created for our custom clients under the agreement that we can resell the plans. We thank them very much for the opportunity to share them with you!

Click here to see all of our house plans.

While certain things cannot easily be changed at this point, other aspects are still flexible. Please send us your comments and ideas about what you’d like to see in the new SunPlans web site.

At the bottom of every page on our current site, you will find the link to click to send us information.

In advance, thank you very much for your time spent providing ideas!

Click here then scroll to the bottom of the page.


Chapel Ridge

First Floor 1752 s.f.
Second Floor 712 s.f.
Total 2464 s.f.
Garage 884 s.f.
Width 73’+Garage
Depth 34′
9% South Glass

Beginning with the charming north-facing entry, the cottage-style Chapel Ridge home has a simplistic design, yet is elegant and exudes a cozy feeling. The timbers visible inside and out, along with the stone accents, add a warm and natural touch.

See more of the Chapel Ridge.


Moorhaus Cottage 2

First Floor 1285 s.f.
Second Floor 703 s.f.
Total 1988 s.f.
Porches 145 s.f.
Detached Garage 768 s.f.
Width 54’+Garage
Depth 40’
9% South Glass

The cozy Moorhaus Cottage 2 is a variation of the original Moorhaus Cottage. While the Moorhaus Cottage plan has many openings from the second floor to the first floor below, the newer plan has been changed to mold to the clients’ need for a more child-friendly home. The simple, northern-facing entry is framed with heavy timbers and craftsman-style knee braces. Guests feel welcome and the family is glad to be home.

See more of the Moorhaus Cottage 2

Islander 8


First Floor 1954 s.f.
Porches 880 s.f.
Garage 746 s.f.
Width 70′
Depth 74′
10% South Glass

The Islander 8 has full wrap around porches on the front and back which create a number of outdoor living spaces. The back porch is connected to the laundry and dining while the front porch is accessed from the main entry area and master bedroom. The plan’s high amount of south-facing glass and thermal mass allow for the sun to supply a high percentage of winter heat. The home’s simple shape results in a relatively low construction cost. With the front door tucked into the northeast corner, the house is inviting with drives from both the north and west, or north and east with a reversed plan.

See more of the Islander 8

Longleaf Atrium

First Floor 2415 s.f.
Second Floor 847 s.f.
Total 3262 s.f.
Porches 526 s.f.
Garage & Carport 960 s.f.
Width 69’ + Garage & Carport
Depth 56’
7% South Glass

The Longleaf Atrium is largely based on our popular Garden Atrium home, with its raised atrium to allow light to penetrate the center of the home. Unlike the Garden Atrium, the Longleaf Atrium has a simpler roof line that saves on construction costs. The northwest-facing front porch has room for large rocking chairs from which to view the late summer sun. The cozy sunroom found in the southern corner provides ample warmth or refreshing coolness throughout the year. (Our client commissioned us to provide 3d for this house design so be sure to look at the images under the photo drop down box for this design.)

See more of the Longleaf Atrium

We look forward to hearing from you in 2010! May the sun warm your house like a smile warms your heart!

Sun Plans Inc.
Debra Coleman, Architect, AIA and Sun Plans Team
(Including our son Gabe who proofed the newsletter and whose smile definitely warms our heart.)
Sun-Inspired Design: the gold lining of green building

The Sun-Inspired House Book Cover

The Sun-Inspired House Book Cover

If you want to learn about the benefits of a passive solar home and how to approach the custom design and building process, you might want to pick up a copy of my book, The Sun-Inspired House.

The book covers the underlying principles of using sun and light to energize a home and the prerequisites involved in a sustainable or green design. With information on selecting and working with a builder, a primer on energy analysis and rating systems, and over 50 sun-inspired designs to peruse, this book is an excellent source of information for anyone considering building a passive solar home.

One of my favorite energy writers, Martin Holladay, wrote a very honest review of the book last summer comparing it to other popular books on passive solar. See more about him and the review in “Musings of an Energy Nerd.”

martin_holladay_250The Sun-Inspired House Book Review by Popular “Energy Nerd” Martin Holladay

As editor of the Energy Design Update, Martin Holladay wrote a review of my book in the July 2008 issue:

“The Sun-Inspired House, a 247-page book by architect Debra Rucker Coleman, may be the best available introduction to passive solar design. Coleman’s book is much more useful than three better- known books on the topic:…”

Later that year, Holladay joined the team as senior editor where his “Musings of an Energy Nerd” blog is one of my favorites. It is always chock full of interesting information on energy savings and green approaches.

Musings of an Energy Nerd
Martin Holladay’s new blog at Green Building Advisor is a favorite.

 Read his full review here:

Sun Plans Sunset Bungalow

Sun Plans Sunset Bungalow -reversed

This charming 3-bedroom, 2-bath bungalow makes the most of passive solar energy by smart placement of the home on available land, use of south-facing windows, and heat-absorbing, colored concrete floors.

The small, custom designed windows and other colorful craftsman touches by Rachael Bighley illustrate that this builder also goes above and beyond the minimum in the delightful finishing details.

This home saves energy by requiring less artificial light during the day and less heating and air conditioning all year long. Forty percent of the Sunset Bungalow’s heat is estimated to be supplied by the sun. This home was ENERGY STAR certified by a H.E.R.S.(home energy rated services) Rater.

Sun Plans Sunset Bungalow sun railing

Owners included a sun railing in the Sun Plans' Sunset Bungalow home.

Features by Sun Plans and Mark Bighley Construction:
· 10 percent glass on the long, south wall
· Bright sky tubes that lighten interior spaces
· Selective north, east, and west windows to add balanced light and increase passive cooling
· Below-slab insulation underneath concrete slab on grade construction
· Colored, polished concrete floors to absorb sun’s heat
· South windows .59 SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient) –using 59% of available sun’s heat
· North, East, West windows .33 SHGC (higher reflectivity keeps out unwanted sun)
· Sprayed foam insulation in ceiling and walls
· Blower door tested low air infiltration
· Energy Recovery Ventilator
· 3 ton 14 SEER Air conditioner
· 94 AFUE fuel-fired air distribution
· Programmable Thermostat
· Energy Star appliances, lights, fans
· Pre-plumbed for active solar

While saving energy was the goal, this home became “green” in other ways as well:
· Carport instead of garage to minimize dangerous air pollutants from vehicles, paint, or gasoline
· No VOCs: paints, sealants and solvents that contained no volatile organic compounds
· Metal roof designed to collect rainwater for use
· Vegetation cleared from the land was recycled for use in the final landscaping
· Ground cover, native grasses and flower seeds minimized the need for irrigation

Click here to see more images of this beautiful home:

July 2018
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