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Tour of Straw Bale Home in Boulder

David Adamson of EcoBuild and Brian Fuentes discuss the construction of the Adamson’s straw bale zero-energy residence in Boulder, Colorado.

Special thanks to the team: The Adamson Family, RMI, Artesano Plaster, EcoBuild and builders Doug Parker and Roger Sims.



CGBG High Performance Building Series

The Colorado Green Building Guild is hosting a four part, “High Performance Building Series” – joined by a number of other Passive House enthusiasts, Brian Fuentes will be presenting on Passive House concepts implemented in fuentesdesign projects.



Denver Post: Information on Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency

Navigating the requirements for tax credits can be complicated – but in today’s Denver Post, a number of  resources for federal tax credits from energy-efficient home improvements and other energy savings measures are highlighted.



Renew bath almost finished!

The Renew Home bath is almost complete- reclaimed barnwood, custom cast concrete ramp sink by Concrete Visions, who also did the hand troweled floor.  The shower walls are by Artesano Plaster, and are tadelakt, or a Morrocan lime plaster technique that creates a waterproof plaster using olive oil soap and hand burnishing with a stone.  Windows are by Zola European Windows, passive house ready thermoplus Clad.  The stain is an antiqued yellowish brown over finger-jointed pine.   The muted earth tones play background to the white Victoria Albert slipper tub.





Visit of Future Off-grid Passive House

Beautiful Colorado!! Here’s a quick panoramic of the future home site of an off-grid Passive House in Fairplay, Colorado (elevation 9900′).  Construction anticipated spring 2013 – check back for additional videos as the project progresses!




Heating & Cooling Drops Below 50% of Household Energy Use

Interesting data has recently been released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration showing that the  residential heating demand, as a portion of total residential energy use, has decreased by 5% since 1993.  The drop is largely attributed to efficiency improvements in mechanical equipment, better insulation levels and higher quality windows. Despite such improvements, the residential energy demand for electronics and other appliances has dramatically increased, from 19% of the total residential energy demand in 1993 to 30% in 2009. This increase is driven by the fact that over 50 million U.S. homes now have three or more televisions and 39 million homes have at least two computers. (Source: Remodeling, 2013)



Project Report – Sunset

Our newest project is framed and starting to take shape! Perched on top of Boulder, this second floor addition is rotated true south to capture passive solar gains and mountain views while a complete gut and remodel of the first floor and basement improve the layout. Despite increasing the square footage to accommodate three generations, super insulated, double stud walls and a continuous air barrier will ultimately save energy, relative to the original home. A geothermal heating system provides heating and cooling while a 10 kW PV system powers the home and continuous filtered fresh air ventilation is provided. Triple pane Zola European windows are used throughout with an 18 foot wide lift-slide door, providing a 9 foot connection to the south balcony.



Allenspark Gallery Improvement

Fuentesdesign is excited to be involved with the schematic design of the NEW Old Allenspark Gallery! The Old Gallery is owned and operated on a volunteer basis by the Allenspark Community Cultures Council, Inc. (ACCC), a 501(c)3 nonprofit public charity.  Formed in 2008, the mission of ACCC is to promote the different cultures of Allenspark:  community services, education, wellness, arts, visitor information and services, and environmental stewardship.   Programs are open to all residents and visitors to the Allenspark area regardless of age, race, religion, politics, sexual orientation, or ability to pay.

Renovation will bring the building up to code and address structural weaknesses while enhancing the Gallery’s capacity for community events by creating open and flexible space.  New and updated indoor and outdoor spaces are designed to host a number of activities from community meals, to lectures, performances, art workshops and yoga classes. According to the ACCC, “the New Old Gallery will remind us of what we have done well in the valley: we affect change as the wind has, we blanket and protect as the snow has, we watch and smile as the sky has, we appreciate – and protect- the beauty that surrounds us. Allenspark possess a heritage worthy of preservation. In the New Old Gallery, that heritage will find a home.”

Please visit the Old Allenspark Gallery if you’re interested in volunteering or learning how you can support the efforts of the ACCC and the Old Gallery!



The Fun Theory

We believe architecture affects us all – for a fun example, check out the “Piano Staircase” at the fun




Energy Should Be……good!

Just spent some time checking out videos at, very cool site that explains how renewable energy works!  Check out Ken R’s great work trying to rally the troops!



Chasing Ice

If you haven’t seen Chasing Ice yet,  you should!  The scenery captured by Boulder based photographer James Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) is not only awe inspiring, but the time-lapse photography of the retreating glaciers proves to be heartbreaking – giving a “visual voice” to the quickly changing ecosystem.  A bit of an emotional roller-coaster, the film is certainly a call to action. Watch the trailer here!

As a call to action, identifies a number of “easy” and “difficult” home upgrades that can reduce the carbon footprint of your home. Recognizing that buildings account for nearly half of our country’s carbon footprint, we’re excited to see such tangible steps highlighted – but what makes us most excited (we prefer this to horrified!) is knowing the magnitude of energy we can save through retrofiting/rebuilding our living spaces with existing technologies (see Passive House building techniques) – if designed and built properly, our buildings can require 10X less energy to heat and cool than the current American average. It’s bold, but it’s what we need to do.




Dec “Do the Math Tour”

Bill McKibben and the “Do the Math Tour” bio-diesel bus recently made a stop in Boulder, Colorado spreading awareness of the math behind climate change, asking those who signed the banner below to remember three numbers:

1) 2 degrees Celsius: The agreed upon change in temperature that we must stay below, at least in the Copenhagen Accord, 2009 in which 167 countries responsible for 87 percent of the world’s carbon signed. Where representatives signing the Accord agreed that, “deep cuts in global emission are required…so as to hold the increase in global temperatures below two degrees Celsius.”
2) 565 Gigatons: The computer simulated amount of carbon our atmosphere can assimilate and still have a “reasonable hope” to stay below 2 degrees Celsius.
3) 2,795 Gigatons: The amount of fossil fuel we are currently planning to burn.

If you missed it, read  Bill McKibben’s recent article in the Rolling Stone magazine here.



En route to Passive House Certification!

Today fuentesdesign and our team successfully conducted our final blower door test at our Alpine Passive House project – achieving an airtest of <0.6ACH 50!  On track to be one of the first Passive Houses in Colorado and potentially, the first straw bale Passive House in the U.S., this home proves that the Passive House air-tightness standard can be achieved with the use of natural products including straw bales and lime plaster.

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fuentesdesign to donate time at Bicycles for Humanity annual fund raising gala.

On November 9th, join us as we support Bicycles for Humanity Colorado at their annual fund raising gala. Come for the auction items, great food, drink and music – or just to support Bicycles for Humanity! To see what Bicycles for Humanity is about, watch a short clip here and then find additional info on the gala here!  Donations are tax deductible so we hope to see you there!!

Details: November 9th 7pm-11pm, Downtown Denver @  Citizen Pictures, 2800 North Speer Boulevard, Denver, CO see map.



Brian Fuentes speaks at dasHaus Conference in Denver.

The German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest and Colorado Chapter will host a Half-day Conference in Denver on October 18th, 2012 from 9am – 1pm as part of the international dasHAUS exhibition.

Join fellow architects, engineers, green building and solar energy professionals for a series of expert presentations on the latest developments in advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency in buildings. From tracking buildings’ energy performance to the latest programs aimed at expanding net-zero energy design, conference topics will center around a central theme: an exchange of ideas, approaches and know-how between Denver’s industry experts and their German counterparts.

LOCATION: Redline Art Gallery, 2350 Arapahoe Street, Denver CO 80205

TIME: 9am – 1pm on Thursday, October 18th, 10:45 – 11:35
Lance Wright & Brian Fuentes 
of the Colorado Chapter of the Passive House Alliance US: “A history of the German building standard and what it takes to build Passive House in Colorado”




Brian Fuentes to speak at Colorado Green Building Guild Discussion: Building Green Is No Longer Enough, It is Time to Build Resilient!

Green building means paying attention to climate data and local weather patterns in design – but what happens when the data driving the design might change?  

Designing buildings to effectively meet the conditions and realities of a Post Carbon, Climate-Changed world may require a shift in our current understanding of what constitutes good building design and sound building practice. Long term, climate appropriate buildings will require more resilient design than currently reflected in today’s design standards.   

Our conversation will explore what this might mean for buildings truly built for the next 100 years. 

Click here for more info.



Boulder Architect, Brian Fuentes to speak at the Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES) monthly education and networking meeting.

What: Ultra Low Load and Passive House Buildings: a Path Toward a Renewable Future”

When: Thursday October 25th at 7:00 PM,
Where: Jefferson Unitarian Church, 14350 West 32nd Avenue Golden, CO.
How: Free for CRES members. Non-members pay $10 beginning in October.
Find additional information on the CRES website.



National Passive House Tour features fuentesdesign homes


Building scientists and Passive House enthusiasts from around the country gathered in Denver for the 2012 National Passive House conference and capped of the week with tours of fuentesdesign homes.

View clips from the tours here:

  • Marshall Plan – Rebuilding an 1890s mining cabin into a state of the art Passive House (VIDEO COMING SOON!)
  • Renew – An urban retrofit renewing a 1950s track home into a cozy but modern adobe home
  • Alpine Passive House  – a prefabricated straw bale mountain home, pursuing Passive House certification
  • Passivista – designed by fuentesdesign, built by Mainstream Corporation
Brian Fuentes and Megan Monroe volunteering at the 2012 National Passive House Conference in Denver, Colorado.



fuentesdesign to present at the International Straw Builders’ Conference

The 2012 International Straw Builders’ Conference is coming to Estes Park, Colorado this September.  Brian Fuentes will present on the Passive House standard and its technical requirements, providing examples of building to this standard in Colorado climate with straw bale and other natural materials. Read more about the conference and Brian’s presentation here.



2012 Qualified Remodeler magazine interviews Brian Fuentes

Brian Fuentes spoke with Qualified Remodeler about connecting indoor-outdoor living spaces, wide-span doors, and  passive house energy performance for remodels in Boulder, Colorado.

See article (pg 52) here.