Sustainable Lake Living

"Ventanas al Cielo" - Windows to Heaven

We are excited and honored to inform you that on Saturday, October 2nd, our home was awarded Best EarthCraft House and Best Green Home at the 33rd Annual OBIE Awards, sponsored by the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association.

We built "Ventanas al Cielo" ("windows to heaven" in Spanish) with the objective of building the most energy-efficient home possible without sacrificing aesthetic or comfort. Currently, we're enjoying our home and this honor, and would like to share a little about our uniquely sustainable lake home with you. 

To date, monthly energy production from ur 8.56 kW photovoltaic array ( ) has equaled:

May               1,103 kWh; Total Carbon Offset 1,680 lbs; The equivalent of 19 tree; 2013/12 Cooling Degree Days 221/355

June                 921 kWh; Total Carbon Offset 1,403 lbs; The equivalent of 16 trees; 2013/12 Cooling Degree Days 485/446

July                  825 kWh; Total Carbon Offset 1,256 lbs; The equivalent of 15 trees; 2013/12 Cooling Degree Days 509/629

August             796 kWh; Total Carbon Offset 2,212 lbs; The equivalent of 14 trees; 2013/12 Cooling Degree Days 486/494

September       815 kWh; Total Carbon Offset 1,241 lbs; The equivalent of 14 trees; 2013/12 Cooling Degree Days 364/356

October            780 kWh; Total Carbon Offset 1,188 lbs; The equivalent of 14 trees; 2013/12 Cooling Degree Days 151/90

Year to date energy produced 5.24 MWh – at $0.11 per kWh the cost savings for the first six months was $576.

A cooling degree day is a unit used to relate the day's temperature to the energy demands of air conditioning. Cooling degree days are calculated by subtracting 68 from a day's average temperature. For example, if the day's high is 90°F and the day's low is 70°F, the day's average is 80°F. Eighty minus 68 is 12 cooling degree days. Cooling degree days can be used to compare the current summer to past summers. It can also be used to compare the heat in one part of the country with another.

To calculate the heating degree days for a particular day, find the day's average temperature by adding the day's high and low temperatures and dividing by two. If the number is above 68, there are no heating degree days that day. If the number is less than 68, subtract it from 68 to find the number of heating degree days.

In addition to this, we produce 100% of our hot water by using a Solar Domestic Hot Water (SDHW) System   ( ) with 80 gallons of storage. Hot water costs can range from 10% to as high as 20% of a home’s total utility costs.




Views of Ventanas al Cielo as of April 30, 2013 - More Photos Here -


Our goal is to provide you with comments and views on builder selections, design techniques, material choices as well as templates for construction agreements, load calculations and links to various resources with regard to building a sustainable home and lifestyle.

This dream would not come to reality if it were not for our builder. Unless you have plenty of free time and possess the skills to supervise your own construction, I highly recommend that  you enlist the services of a skilled residential builder. We actually interviewed four. It is critical that you and your selected builder share the same "vision" or "dream" and that they actually  have successfully built homes of the same caliber that you have planned.

There are no blue ribbons or gold stars for being a pioneer - (a pioneer is someone with mud on their face and arrows in their back) because in home building remember that "Miller's Law" makes Murphy look like an optimist! - "Anything that can go wrong will, and probably already has but you don't even know it yet!!"

After careful thought and investigation we selected the FrontPorch Team ( as our builder. Led by Curtis Peart, FrontPorch was founded to provide homeowners with the highest level of customer service and value.

As a certified EarthCraft builder and member of SouthFace, FrontPorch was part of the team that built the HGTV Green Home in Serenbe, a community in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. That home was both EarthCraft and LEED certified.

About the OBIE Awards:

The OBIE Awards began in 1980 and have grown throughout the years to now feature more than 100 building, remodeling, marketing and personal achievement categories in which to enter. The OBIE Awards, named after the obelisk shape of the actual award given, are the premier awards in the new home construction industry. Awards are given to recognize outstanding achievement in new home building, marketing, remodeling and personal achievement categories. The Sales and Marketing Council of the HBA presents the annual OBIE Awards every November. OBIE Award recipients stand out among their peers and are recognized for their outstanding achievements.