Arapahoe Gardens Home



The Arapahoe Gardens Home is a three bedroom, two bath, one story home consisting of about 1300 SF. The home is located within the urban farm of the community.

Master Plan

Master PlanThe two block site will accommodate row homes, multifamily units and four single family homes. The features of the community include an urban farm of almost 2 acres, a central street in which to hold events and farmers markets, and a parking structure.

Garden-Ready Homes

Site Plan

To further instill the idea or Urban Farming, the solar homes will have garden options available to the buyer which include:

  • Raised Garden Beds
  • Fruit-Bearing Trees and Shrubs
  • Extra Storage with Double-Wide Door for Wheelbarrows
  • Beehives
  • Chicken Coops
  • Green House

 Raised Garden Bed Benefits

  • Water conservation
  • Higher yields and less area to weed
  • Earlier planting
  • Maintain a consistent temperature
  • Frost protection
  • Accessible gardening

The homes are located within the Urban Farm to help create the connection between the individual home and the community. Urban Farming is the idea of growing a product to be sold. Community Garden is more for personal consumption and sharing. The Goal is to shape a community that does both. Grow for profit AND personal consumption.

The Floor Plan

Floor Plan

The layout of the Arapahoe Gardens home is inspired by the idea of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian home and the idea that a house could be designed in a democratic, distinctly American style that was affordable for the ‘common people. The Arapahoe Gardens home has three zones, the living/dining space, the master bedroom suite space, and the bedroom/bathroom space.

Building Sections

Heating and Cooling Systems


The home’s heating and cooling system consists of many supporting components. The main component being a horizontal, 10 pitch slinky, closed-loop system. The system is estimated to be a 2-ton system. A horizontal 10 pitch slinky system requires 10ft pipe/ foot of trench and is recommended that the trench length be 115 feet, meaning 1150 feet length of pipe is recommended.

Number of parallel loops and/or trenches is 3-4. 1 heat pump is required for a 2-ton system with 1/12 HP. The house has a system of ductwork in an insulated crawlspace to distribute the hot and cold air throughout the house.

Costs to install a horizontal ground loop alone are about $750/ton. An entire horizontal system (including loop, heat pump, ductwork etc) is about $8,200/ton. The State of Colorado offers a 30% refund for the year of installation. For this system (a 2-ton system) the costs estimated are a total of $11,480 ($16,400 minus the 30% refund of $4,920).

In addition to the geothermal, the house’s windows are placed towards the roof with overhangs. This allows daylight to enter the house during the winter months and heat the house through direct solar gain. The overhangs on the roof prevent that same sunlight from entering the house during the summer months, helping to reduce the heat gained throughout the day. 

GROVE IMG_0138_2


“Lawrence Point Rowhouse” – Sustainable Multi-Family Housing

GreenBuildingStudio_RowHouse - 3D View - Rendering 2-SMALL

Lawrence Point Rowhouse consists of 5 Two-Bedroom Units. Each unit will be 2 story high with roof access and roof patio on the third floor. Each unit is about 1,400 SF with 2
bedrooms and 2.5 baths. The design is showing an option of having a studio/office
space on the third floor as a potential upgrade option from a roof access only. We areGreenBuildingStudio_RowHouse - 3D View - Rendering 1-SMALL
currently providing two options for the residential parking arrangements. Option 1 will
be that each unit will have the base of having an area for parking at the back of the
unit being accessed from the center alley. This parking area can be upgraded by the
tenant to a carport or a detached garage structure. This leaves a pretty generous area
for individual gardens/backyard. Option 2 will be that each rowhouse building will have
a combined garage structure. The space between the parking structure and the units
can be potentially be used as an expansion of the community garden.


For the medium density scheme, the entire 2 block site will accomodate 22 Rowhomes and 90 Apartment Units. It will include a raised street for events, community garden and structured parking.

11X17 Board 1


The rowhouse building designed will be oriented towards Lawrence St. Since they’re
designed to be passive solar units, each unit has a generous Southern exposure. The
roof access structure is oriented 15 degrees from true South to maximize Southern heat
gain during Winter Months. Various methods are being used to supplement the HVAC
system. These methods are, but not limited to, district geothermal heat pump, cooling
tower, radiant floor heating, and the option to open windows as needed.


The exterior walls are designed to insulate the building with an R-Value of at least 36, the
walls are designed to keep the elements out but also as a thermal mass. The demising
walls between units can be incorporated as shafts for passive ventilation, cooling and
heating. Roofs are designed to be at least R-48.

C:Userscsigit-sidhartaDesktopLocal Files2013-12-02_GreenBui


Various sustainable methods are also implemented but not currently shown on
drawings, such as: Low flow/dual flush toilets, water sense certified faucets and shower
heads, energy efficient HVAC system with programmable thermostat and economizer,
low VOC interior and exterior materials and finishes, Energy Star rated appliances and
lighting system.

11X17 Board 3

Summer Night

“Living Green” – The Solar Townhouse

Group 3 – Chris Corneal and Bobby Garneau

The idea of “Green Building” and “Sustainability” in architecture is not just a concept or idea anymore, but is an important design implication that will eventually become a standard of practice.

The Problem “living green” has created a false reality among our society that in order to make the shift from energy dependent to a conscious energy saver would require you to make a drastic change in your way of life while adding extra expenses.

The Goal – This Fall 2013 semester, our Advanced Green Building Studio sought out to prove that living in a sustainable townhouse can be both affordable and easy to operate on a daily and annual basis.

Group3 Rendering

Concept:  The design and siting for our solar townhome reflect the idea of community and architecture coming together.

Master Planning

Board 1&2

Site Plan

A-100Siting – We used the goals of the Sustainability Park development, and incorporated them into the site design for our 5 solar townhouses. Sustainability Park is visualized as a future development where community and living come together through a series of urban gardens, parks, and teaching/food processing centers.   Our site design takes the overall idea and places it on a micro scale by giving the residents their own small farming area while being connected to the larger community farm.

Five_Unit_SE side 2



Walls R44 – 10″ Thick, Exterior: Bettle Kill Pine and Fiber Concrete Board

Roof R49 – Standing Seam


 Heating and Cooling Systems:

Board 1&2

2 Stage Cooling System –  Our solar townhouse is cooled through the use of a partially below grade labyrinth which works in a two stage process. (click diagram for greater detail)

First Stage: Cool, night-time air, is brought into the labyrinth. The cold air then passes through a heat exchanger located at the end of the labyrinth which is circulating and storing cold water into a holding tank.

Second Stage: On hot summer days the heat exchanger uses the cold water collected from the night before to assist in a water-to-air system which then forces cool air into a network of flex ducts within the flooring system and distributes it throughout the building.

Board 1&2

Heating System: Our heating system uses a solar wall located on a south-east south-west exposure to collect and store heated water. The heating system essentially uses the same storage tank used in the cooling system.  It then uses the hot water to assist the same water-to-air heat exchanger and distribute warm air through out the space. (click diagram for greater detail)




Proving it works

Solar wall system daily gains:  

SW Window Average, 31,000 BTU – SE Window Average, 60,000 BTU

Board 1&2

Building performance:  Above displays the energy analysis for a single townhouse performance.  We came to a quantitative conclusion that on the coldest day of the year, in December, we would need to delivery a make up of about 48% (which could be obtained through a small energy star furnace).  For the remaining months out of the year we are well operating at 100%.  In calculating our buildings annual BTU usage we came to just over 4 BTU/Hr.  This equates to about 85-90% energy efficient (very near net zero).

Board 1&2

Updating The Square

cropped photos_Page_1

The design is based heavily on the proportions of the “Denver Square,” a design repeated hundreds of times throughout Denver. I figured it would be an interesting challenge to bring this classic design into the modern era. cropped photos_Page_3

It is a sip panel construction with a rain screen. The vertical slats on the west wall are of burnt cedar. They are fire resistant, and add an interesting aesthetic to the project. The sheathing on south, west and north walls are of brushed aluminum, and depending on personal preference, could be installed in different colors. cropped photos_Page_6The plan  was substantially opened from the traditional Denver square. This was done to create a more spacious feel considering the strict square footage requirements (1400sf). Throughout the project’s development, I was continually looking through the eyes of the user, because I feel that many sustainable buildings are more concerned with the engineering than the experience. The interior is raw but pleasant, with abundant natural daylighting.cropped photos_Page_2cropped photos_Page_4

The sustainable features include a trom wall light chimney. This chimney was sized to have a temperature differential  of 8 deg, on average, throughout the year and naturally ventilated the building 5 air changes per hour. Air is then drawn into the space through a labyrinth that is designed within the foundation. There is also radiant heating within the floor, which is assisted by the solar chimney. Overall, the building performed well, with an energy consumption of 24kbtu/sf.

cropped photos_Page_5

Courtyard House

Wu Wen-Long &  Zhou Le

This project came about from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) competition to design a zero-net-energy residential house in Denver, Colorado.

The site is located right outside of downtown Denver on 25th and Lawrence St. One of the main requirements of the master plan was to also include an urban garden element. We decided to design a multi residential row house with five units.

In lieu of the urban garden element in our master plan our main drive behind the design is providing courtyards for each unit. Allowing each unit to have their own outdoor space that can provide fresh air and ventilation throughout the space.

The form of our building comes from the study of the surrounding context of the neighborhood. One side being more modern and on the other hand having traditional vernacular buildings. In addition, the site borders a historical district. With this context in mind we came up with the butterfly roof form as a mix between its surroundings.

We designed the façade in consideration of gaining the most solar access we can to work towards our goal of being zero-net-energy.

Master Plan with groupings of row houses each with five units.


The form comes from the surrounding context.

site condition



Rendering of front exterior with windows facing south.

ext rendering

Floor Plan- First Floor: The living room, kitchen and a small bedroom is locate in the first floor.

first floor

Second floor holds the two other bedrooms.

second floor


Energy Diagrams

solar diagrams


Using energy modeling as a driving force behind our design we came to 8.28 in the end for our goal of being zero-net-energy.

energy results

Details below:

detail 2 dertail 1


money shot

Yandy Cheng, James Hart, Kevin Strohfus

The Idea of the Anywhere House was born from the DOE contest imperative that the design of a solar home be repeatable, yet on a 45 degree angle from south. Well, how can it be repeatable unless always at that orientation? We did a little research and realized that most of the major cities have unpredictable angled developments. So we set out with the lofty goal of making a Net Zero home that can sit at ANY orientation.

The program of the house was conceived to cradle the garden space and create a Biophelic connection with the urban agriculture. From the family room little windows show peeks of the garden from different angles to enhance the connection. In the summer the main living space opens up to hybrid inside/outside space which doubles the social main living space of the house.

Program Diagram Hybrid Social

The main home shape is inspired by having roof planes that will always show at least one face within 20 degrees of south regardless of any orientation. Also the angles of the roof in section are designed to increase the incident angle of the sun during the coldest times of the year.

diagrams lot orientation

The systems of the house include an interstitial wall which creates buoyant air for ventilation. Inside the interstitial wall is a radiant heat system where heat is collected in recycled vegetable oil, and stored under in an insulated tank for heating throughout the night. Cooling is created from a Waterside Economizer which is a condenser that uses evaporation to cool water instead of air. The cold water is stored in a similar insulated tank and used in a chilled beam cooling system. Finally a sterling engine is added to the line of heated oil which creates 3 KW of electricity for use at night or to be sold back to the grid during the day.

diagram energy Summer Day

Part of the DOE challenge is to develop an innovate envelope and prove its performance through energy modeling. We proposed a composite SIP wall that would have similar thermal lag to hay bale by using recycled HDPE plastic which has similar heat capacity to concrete and thermal conductivity to water. The wall stores energy during the day and emits it into the space at night for advanced thermal performance. The performance of our envelope was documented in the energy modeling software E+. Our enveloped saved 25 Million Btus a year over an ASHRAE baseline model.

Therma Core Wall Diagrams

Finally in the interest in material sustainability we designed the house to be de-constructible so that if the house outlives its usefulness it can be broken down into readily usable building blocks/materials instead of going to the landfill. 40% of landfills are currently made up of construction materials. The inventive composite walls of the Anywhere House are not made of adhesive but instead are bolted through so that they may come apart in layers for reuse. The trusses are also bolted and minimal nail fittings are used throughout the project.

Deconstruct diagram

ecoCOMMUNITY | Korey White and Catherine Brown

Denver is uniquely located in the United States that change is occurring rapidly. This means change in business practice, sustainability, built environment design, transit access and health initiatives. Sustainability is a term that is hard to define, has various meanings and continues to provoke interesting conversation and ideas.

ecoCOMMUNITY | The ecoCOMMUNITY project that we designed for this Greenbuilding Studio focuses on three aspects of sustainability: context, affordability and integration. The importance of designing affordable multi-family housing is that sustainability takes on many different meanings. It is not just creating a home that is net-zero, but creating a community that is sustainable, builds upon itself and provides opportunity for the neighborhood. MASTERPLAN

CONCEPT | Our concept for this project was constantly tested against the three ideas of context, affordability and integration. It was imperative that the rowhomes did not overshadow the rest of the neighborhood, that the farm integrated with the rest of the block and that the construction of the homes was affordable. We looked at contextual examples of existing housing. From these studies, we realized that some characteristics could be reinterpreted into our design, that some would translate well to our contemporary design and that some should be left with the historic housing. As we were determining our architectural aesthetic, we were also studying and analyzing ways in which we could incorporate net-zero strategies. Because of our 45 degree orientation off of south, it was difficult to use passive strategies. We then started to push and pull our massing to allow for the middle units to have access to sunlight. This then provided each unit with a private second floor balcony and access to natural sunlight at various points throughout the day.


SUSTAINABLE EXPLORATION | We explored various methods of energy efficiency and isolated solar gain opportunities. After researching existing solutions we decided to further examine the concept of the Evacuated Tube. We developed a new concept based on our design principles of affordability and integration. 

EXPOSED SOLAR COLLECTION | The ESC reinterprets the principles of an evacuated tube as an affordable and integrated design strategy for solar collection. Evacuated Tubes are exterior mounted systems that absorb sunlight and convert it into usable heat. Comprised of a glass tube assembly of a metal absorber sheet with a heat pipe in the middle the tube shape can maintain air pressure and create a vacuum between the absorber and the front surface. Similar to the evacuated tube collector, the ESC is comprised of a closed acrylic tube, inside of which is a steel pipe filled with water. Water within the pipes follow a closed loop system that allows heat to move from the collector into a storage and re-circulating the cooled water back through. With the simplified assembly of steel, acrylic and water the ESC can be further integrated with the surrounding context and inform the design of site infrastructure.

evacuated tube diagram

DISTRICT HEATING AND COOLING | Because of affordability, we looked at systems that would help with the affordability of heating and cooling for energy saving purposes. We settled on the idea of a district heating and cooling system in which the solar energy is collected in the ESC system on the southwest sides of the buildings. The water that is heated inside of these systems is then stored in two large tanks under the site that heats and returns the water through radiant heating into the rowhomes.

Greenbuilding Studio Presentation Boards