Green Undercover: This Eco-Friendly House in Wellesley Fits Right In

ZeroEnergy Design creates a green home that fits right into a traditional neighborhood.
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Sustainable design moves include the addition of solar panels on the metal roof, fiber-cement siding in place of wood (which requires painting), and an irrigation system fed by collected rainwater. / Photograph by Eric Roth

Architect Stephanie Horowitz, of Boston-based ZeroEnergy Design, is an expert at creating contemporary, environmentally sensitive, family-friendly abodes. But one of her recent projects posed a unique challenge: She was asked to design a 4,200-square-foot house that was LEED Platinum–certified while easily blending into its Wellesley neighborhood. Thanks to über-thick insulation, this traditional-from-the-outside home is one of the most energy-efficient houses in town. Here, Horowitz shares how she did it.

green home wellesley floor plan

Breathe Free

The kitchen cabinets are made of formaldehyde-free plywood and finished with low-VOC paint. A Dash & Albert indoor/outdoor rug, made from recycled plastic bottles, is one of the home’s few floor coverings because, as Horowitz points out, “Carpets are harbingers of dust and allergens that don’t support a healthy living environment.”

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Photograph by Eric Roth

Close It Up

European high-performance triple-glazed windows and doors are extremely airtight—and therefore highly energy efficient. “When closed, the seal is comparable to a freezer door,” Horowitz says. Here, two sets of French doors connect the kitchen and dining areas with the back deck, where a gas fire pit extends the deck’s usage into the chilly months.

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Photograph by Eric Roth

Combine Functions

Both the front door and the garage open into the home’s main entry hall, which doubles as the mudroom—complete with storage cubbies, a bench, and access to the laundry. “It’s an efficient use of square footage that ensures the front vestibule isn’t an abandoned area used only by guests,” Horowitz says.

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Photograph by Eric Roth

Mix Materials

The solid white-oak dining table, finished with its natural splits and knots intact, contrasts with the industrial feel of the handwelded iron-and-brass chairs. Interior designer Tracy Parkinson, of Nest + Company, installed a trio of images of retro milk-bottle tops by photographer Roy Barloga, printed on handmade paper and framed in Plexiglas.

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Photograph by Eric Roth

Make it Easy

Horowitz extends her environmentally sensitive design work to her ergonomic interiors. A first-floor bathroom off the guest suite, for example, boasts a curbless shower for easy maneuvering to accommodate the homeowners’ elderly parents. Carrara marble hex tile covers the floor, which slopes toward the horizontal drain along the back wall.

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Photograph by Eric Roth

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Photograph by Eric Roth


Architecture & Mechanical Design ZeroEnergy Design
General Contractor The Bevilacqua Company
Civil Engineering Creative Land & Water Engineering
Landscape Design Barbara Peterson Landscape Consultation & Design
Interior Design Nest + Company