Bill Yearsley talks about his house with a sense of pride.
It’s more than simple ownership. He designed his home off Kerr Gulch Road, and it's about as green as a home can get.
“This house came out of my passion for sustainable design,” said Yearsley, who was in the engineering and construction industry for 30 years. “It’s built using materials that will last. I’d like to think there’s nothing else like it in the Jeffco community.”
Yearsley, who also spent several years as a professor of construction engineering and management at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said building the house was the easy part; making sure everything both inside and outside was energy efficient was more difficult.
The 5,600-square-foot home on 11 acres is pretty awesome by itself, but add the attention to detail regarding energy efficiency, and the home becomes more amazing.
The Yearsleys’ property has a wind turbine and three solar arrays.
“A lot of sustainable design is what you don’t see,” he said.
It’s built in such a way that it uses energy efficiently, from the concrete decks to the triple-pane windows at the top of the cathedral ceilings that help cool the house in summer.
Bill and his wife, Claudia, built the home eight years ago, and Bill is constantly scrutinizing it to see if other improvements can be made as the technology gets better.
He talks about what he calls “long life, loose fit,” meaning that the house is built to allow new technologies over time.
Bill had helping the planet in mind when he designed every detail of the house. The energy-efficient touches are so numerous that it would take a long time to list them all.
Some of the highlights: Most of the exterior is stone that was mined locally, and the decks are concrete rather than wood. The timbers and flooring are reclaimed — a tribute to recycling — and the walls are 8 to 10 inches thick with more insulation.
The mechanical room along with the bathrooms and kitchen are centrally located, so water doesn’t travel as far. Stone walls are strategically placed so they are warmed by the sun and help increase the home’s temperature.
The house has its own mini-power plant with a computer that knows where to provide power first in the event of an outage.
“You want a home that operates on the grid most of the time because you can sell electricity that you don’t use to Xcel to build a rebate against the usage bill,” he said. “You want to be off the grid when you have power outages.”
He said building self-sustaining homes is all about the details, and the technology can be incorporated into any home, both to save money and to help the planet.
“I want (this house) to be around 150 years from now,” he said. “It’s great to have put into the design a lot of things other people just think about. The key is to minimize energy usage.”