Solar Home with LEED Platinum Certification
Tom Lombardo posted on June 19, 2014 |
Take a look at a solar home that's LEED Platinum certified for sustainability.

Imagine a house that’s built from recycled materials and powered entirely by the sun. Are you thinking of a little shack with no running water? Think again - the Kantor residence, a 5000 square foot solar-powered “green” home in New Canaan CT, is among the few private houses in the state with LEED Platinum Certification, and it’s loaded with amenities. (The building pictured above is an outbuilding, not the residence itself.)

Platinum is the highest level of LEED certification; around 2500 private residences have earned this level, most of them in California. The Kantor residence is one of only six LEED Platinum homes in Connecticut. I spoke with owner Etta Kantor, who built the home with her husband back in 2008. She gave me an overview of the home’s features.

Energy Efficiency

All of the Kantor home’s appliances exceed Energy Star ratings. Its induction stove is electric, but much more efficient than a traditional electric stove. The house has no incandescent lights; all electric lighting is either CFL or LED. Light tubes bring natural daylight to interior rooms and hallways.

Building Envelope

A tight building envelope keeps drafts out, allowing the house to retain its heat in the winter and stay cool in the summer. The walls are insulated with an environmentally friendly spray-foam. Triple pane windows are featured throughout the home. The building is airtight, with fresh air provided by a ventilation system with a heat exchanger energy recovery system. The Kantors added a fireplace for ambiance but the house is so airtight that the fireplace needs inlet pipes to bring in outside air. The residence has a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index of 14. On the HERS scale, lower numbers are better. A typical new construction has a HERS index of 100; a net-zero home has a HERS index of ... you guessed it: zero.

Passive Solar Heats the Home, Water, and Pool

A plethora of south-facing windows allow the low winter sun to heat the home passively, while providing ample daylighting year-round. Each window has overhangs to block the high summer sun. The great room features a concrete floor to provide thermal mass, and includes radiant floor heating. Fourteen flat-plate solar collectors cover 448 square feet of the house’s roof, gathering the sun’s heat and using it to heat the home, the domestic water, and the swimming pool. The rest of the house is heated with forced air, which is warmed by the solar collectors as well. No fossil fuels are used to heat the house. Mrs. Kantor told me that even when the outdoor temperature is 5oF (-15oC), the interior stays around 60oF (16oC). A pellet-burning wood stove provides auxiliary heat, but it rarely fires up.

Sustainable Building Materials

The entire building was made from materials that were either reclaimed, recycled, or sustainably harvested. The roof is made of recycled rubber and plastic. The floors are reclaimed oak. The kitchen counters look like granite, but they’re actually recycled glass. All stones are local, and the interior tiles were hand-made by a local artisan. Even the carpet tiles are made from recycled materials, and if the owner decides to change the carpeting, it can be removed and recycled yet again.


The home sports a 10.8 kW photovoltaic array made of forty-eight south-facing PV panels mounted to poles in the backyard. The system is grid-tied, so they sell excess power to the grid during the day and buy electricity at night. The PV system meets about 95% of the home’s electrical needs. It even charges Etta’s electric car, which she purchased to replace her VW Jetta diesel that ran on waste vegetable oil obtained from Chinese restaurants and filtered in her garage.

Water Collection and Conservation

Rainwater is collected and stored in a pair of 1250 gallon cisterns. That water is used for garden and landscape irrigation. Local ordinances don’t allow rainwater to be used for domestic purposes, so a well provides fresh water for the house. A greywater system takes drain water from sinks, showers, and laundry, filters it, and sends it to the home’s toilets. The master bedroom features a composting toilet system, which turns human waste into fertilizer for the gardens.

Virtual Tour

You can take a virtual tour of the house here:

And if you live in the New Canaan CT area and are interested in a high-end energy efficient home, the house is for sale. Click the Read More link for details.

Images and video courtesy of

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