accompaniment real estate
A New Green • A 25-acre development near Vermont’s Batttenkill
River matches sustainable ideals with vernacular architecture
In 2009, whenever talk veered away from the shaky economy, real estate trends skewed to energy efficiency, smaller footprints with more amenities, and a sense of community. A development in Manchester, Vermont, appears not only to address all these points, but does it with architectural integrity. Witness: A white clapboard house with a hand- some gabled facade at the end of a winding lane, the
Battenkill River within earshot and the Green Mountains in the
distance. To all appearances, this quintessential Vermont homestead could have been standing since the 1800s, when Greek
Revival houses were built on lush town greens throughout the
state. But the house was built just five months ago, designed
by Manchester architect Ramsay Gourd and built by contractor
Mark Breen in a sustainable manner that earned the structure the
highest energy-efficiency rating the state awards, 5 Stars Plus.
“This house is the first of nine that will make up a new sustainable community whose architecture is rooted in traditional
Vermont vernacular,” says Gourd. The development, called
Battenkill Meadows, will bring premier sustainable houses to
Vermont. The team includes Gourd and Breen, plus landscape
architect Tim McClaran and engineer Ellis Speath, a foursome
that has worked together on other projects. A former client of the
team, in fact, is the financial backer for Battenkill Meadows,
a testament to the caliber of their work.
“For us, sustainable building means taking more time
making the envelope tight,” says Breen, whose wall construction technique on the first house (to date, three of the nine
houses have been built) includes taping every seam in every
layer of insulation (foil-faced insulation nearest the exterior
clapboards, R20 dense-packed cellulose nearest the interior
drywall). Recycled-denim sound insulation in the floors and
ceilings adds a different sort of comfort factor. The team is
also trying various insulation materials, such as soy-derived
closed-cell bio-based foam.
Other factors noted in the state’s energy rating are the
home’s high-efficiency forced-air heating and cooling systems and low-emission double-hung windows by Marvin.
The remaining eight houses will feature geothermal heating
that will utilize an underground water source that can feed a
1,500-gallon-per-minute artesian well, beneath the development’s 13-acre meadow.
The houses run from 3,000 to 3,300 square feet, and
the interior of the first completed house is an example of forgoing excessive square footage for amenities, such as locally
sourced pine floors, custom-milled crown and base moldings,
a first-floor bedroom/home office, Vermont-slate wet bar in
the living room, and a mudroom connection to the garage.
The exterior matches the most durable materials to the
most exposed elements. Gourd points out the progression:
from the house’s lowest trim piece, the water-table board,
which is made of PVC for maximum moisture resistance, to
the PVC window wells, cedar clapboards and window trim,
and pine soffits. The porch itself features square columns
made of mahogany plywood and mahogany decking.
The first house is on the market for $1.15 million; the
average listing price for Manchester houses in late November
hovered around $750,000. Battenkill Meadows offers energy
efficiency, architectural design, and high-quality custom features, but perhaps most appealing is the sense of community.
“All the houses look to the meadow and pond, and that area
will be laid out as a common,” says Gourd, nodding toward
the bucolic meadow that stretches into the distance toward the
view of the presciently named Green Mountains.
The site amenities at Battenkill Meadows, a sustainable development in Manchester, Vermont, include such quintessential
Green Mountain State elements as a river for fly-fishing [ 1], a pond [ 2], a natural meadow [ 3], a common green [ 4], and
houses arranged along a winding lane. Although newly constructed, the Battenkill Meadows house (top) designed by
Manchester architect Ramsay Gourd and built by contractor Mark Breen, conveys 19th-century vernacular architecture with
classic white clapboards and a garage designed and painted to look like a barn. For information visit bkmvt.com.