Getting to Zero

Confluence Architecture was instrumental in turning an old 1970 energy hog home into a an efficient, low energy use residence.   The project qualified for $12,000 in  grants from CORE and $7,092 in rebates from Holy Cross Energy.      The home is fully electric and uses air-source heat pumps for heating and cooling.  It is projected to be net-zero. Confluence was responsible for planning, architecture and energy modeling on this home.






Couple creates a deep-green, DIY home in Satank, Colorado

This is a re-posting of an article from Roaring Fork Lifestyles magazine.


Check this Tumbler scrapbook about the construction process, very interesting.


Confluence Architecture & Sustainability was the HERS raters for this home. The HERS is an outstanding -10! The negative means is actually beyond net-zero, it is net-positive. As in, the occupants of this home should never have to pay for heating, cooling, lighting or hot water. Attention to detail got this house crazy air tight. Even with salvaged windows and doors, Steven was able to get this down to .69 ACH50. I’m sure it would have bested Passive House requirements (.6 ACH50) if not for the less-than perfect windows and doors.

Congratulations Steven and Bailey- you have a beautiful, high-quality home. Here are a few teaser photos…

The "Hainestead"



Utah’s ancient architecture

Will your house look this good after 600 years?

This spring Confluence Architecture fired up the company truck (see fig. 1) for a trip into the backcountry of Utah. We headed for an area that promised very good camping, hiking and ruins. And, of course, all of the potholes and dust you can take!

1976 Ford Bronco

1976 Ford Bronco

Angela in Ballroom cave

Angela in Ballroom Cave


Anasazi ruins

the Target ruins


the Target ruins

the Target ruins

pottery shards

pottery shards

metates and a corn cob

metates and a corn cob



Solar powered attic vent fan

In the remodel of KDNK Carbondale Community Access Radio’s building we converted the sealed attic into a ventilated attic. This allows us to raise the insulation level to R49. Typically, adding ventilation to an attic that originally had none includes either; cutting in gable vents, cutting in several thru-roofing vents or cutting in ridge and soffit vents. Thru-roofing vents,  ridge and soffit vents are expensive and they required cutting through perfectly good roofing to install. The building did have a window in the gable that could be converted into a louvered vent, but cross-ventilation was still a problem. The solution came from a fortuitous coincidence. The building was once occupied by the international solar technology educators; Solar Energy International. SEI had left a couple of old solar panels in the attic that just happened to be exactly half the height of the gable window. I realized that two solar panels and two 24×24 louvered vents would fill the space left by the window’s removal. Two solar panels would provide more than enough power to run a DC fan large enough to vent the attic for moisture reasons- plus the fan could lower the temperature of the attic in the summer! This is what it turned out like (paint to come in the spring). The controls are 120 AC single-pole cooling thermostat and dehumidistat wired in parallel; so the fan comes on if it gets too humid or too hot.

KDNK attic vent outsideKDNK solar ventsolar vent controler

 solar powered attic vent fan


Light Clay Straw Wall Raising

natural building


Confluence Architecture witnessed a natural, owner-built home get one step closer to completion last week when we participated in the wall packing on Dominic’s house in Paonia, Colorado.  This house has been on the drawing board for over two years and it is great to see it under construction.  Confluence Architecture worked in partnership with Energy and Sustainable Design, Inc. and home owner, Dominic Anthony, to develop the efficient home plans for this Light Clay Straw building. Mark and Angela pitched in with a group of great volunteers to mix the straw with clay slurry, hoist the material to the wall cavities, and then foot pack the walls.

A light clay straw (or modified cob system) is a wall using minimal wood and consisting of primarily clay and straw.  The 1′ wide walls are framed with wood larsen trusses.  Temporary plywood forms are applied to the interior and exterior of the wall.  The voids are foot packed with a mixture of clay soils and straw.  Then the forms are removed revealing the dense straw and clay wall.

Natural Building

According to EcoNest “this combination of thermal mass (the clay soil) and thermal insulation (the fiber) is called “dynamic insulation” because in combination these qualities create very comfortable interior climate and a high level of energy efficiency.” The home uses abundant local clay and straw to form the insulation and wall surfaces.  It eliminates the use of petroleum based products for insulation, building wrap and waterproofing that are so typical in modern construction. The team of volunteers was lead by a Crested Butte based contractor (Smith Works Natural Building) that is knowledgeable in the system.

Congratulations Dominic!  We can’t wait to see the finished product.