While chatting with Canadian Mounties, snapping photos, and sloshing around in the mud at October’s 2009 Solar Decathlon, I couldn’t help but think about what the future held. What would come next for these for the 20 truly talented student teams duking it on the National Mall to see who could design and build the most livable, attractive, and energy-efficient solar-powered home?

While I don’t have updates on 2009 Solar Decathlon participants, leaders from Cornell's 2005 Solar Decathlon team (they took second place) have since gone on to launch the Boston-based green architecture and HVAC design firm, ZeroEnergy Design (ZED). Recently, ZED completed work on a dreamy EnergyStar and LEED Gold certified home, The English Residence, in the Cape Cod town of Orleans. 

Working with sustainable construction company Cape Associates, ZED’s task was to create a modern, year-round home that would replace an old but much-loved family summer rental on the property. While designing the 2,000 square-foot, three-bedroom structure, ZED was loyal to the client’s desire to tread lightly on the planet while also creating a space that would serve as a familial hub and a showcase for an extensive art collection amassed over the years.

As you can see, the English Residence is quite modern — certainly not your typical Cape house — and incorporates eco-features like solar electric and hot water systems, radiant flooring, recycled glass tile, an energy recovery ventilator, bamboo flooring, a rainwater management system, a whole house ventilation/allergen filtration system, and more.

To keep true to the client’s vision, the floor plan is generously open and a warm, artistic aesthetic has been worked into the home’s design making this state-of-the-art abode anything but uninviting. Artist family members think that the use of bold orange, red, and cedar colors truly “made the house.” And since this is Cape Cod, there is abundant outdoor space including an open porch and a rooftop deck that abuts a lush, green roof.

Quite a stunner; with a thoughtfully designed “replacement” home like this, I’m guessing that any collective trauma over the loss of the older structure is sucked up and quickly forgotten. Check out ZED’s website for more specifics on the English Residence and be sure to take a look at the entire portfolio of these of Solar Decathlon alumni. 

Photos: Michael J Lee

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Modern English
An old summer rental on Cape Cod makes way for the English Residence, a modern year-round home that maintains a strong sense of familial tradition and conservat