A Bright Idea: BrightBuilt Barn

With its super insulation and solar-power system, the prefabricated BrightBuilt Barn by Kaplan Thompson Architects and Bensonwood Woodworking Company produces far more energy than it consumes.


| May/June 2009


Freezing Maine temperatures did not deter Keith Collins from building a home without a furnace. With its super insulation and solar-power system, the prefabricated BrightBuilt Barn by Kaplan Thompson Architects and Bensonwood Woodworking Company produces far more energy than it consumes. The home is on track to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification—the group’s highest ranking.

Collins built the barn 100 feet from his home for use as a home office and studio. After moving in last November, the physician and entrepreneur says that the barn stayed “warm and cozy,” even in record cold.

Collins loves that he didn’t have to compromise beauty to be eco-friendly. “It doesn’t look like a science project. It is extremely attractive, and at the same time it is highly energy-efficient.”

The concept can be replicated in other climates and built for less than $200,000.

1. Moveable Walls: Partition walls can be moved for easy reconfiguration and renovation.

2. Solar Powered: “Our system on the BrightBuilt Barn has thirty 210-watt panels, for a combined system of 6,300 watts of grid-tied photovoltaics. That system will produce, on average, 660 kilowatts of electricity per month,” says Pat Coon of ReVision Energy, the company that installed the panels.





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