Circa 1984
Ahead of the curve - Passive Solar House

For those literature buffs, this is not a pictorial by Nevil Shute, but rather a residential house project which Cape Painting & Carpentry, Inc. built and completed during the Oil crisis of the 1980s...over 27 years ago. It was before the "Age of Green".

the old barn

  • House foundation is a four foot poured perimeter with insulated perimeter walls and a insulated primary floor slab. Finish in clay tiles.
  • Framing double interior walls/exterior walls, attic and roof rafters both have thermal break and Super Insulated R values 40 and 62 respectively.
  • All windows and sliders double insulated as were framing jacks and headers.
  • House cavity venting as Soffitt venting drip edge, oversized gable vents and interior air exchange fan.
  • Thermostatic controls for air exchanger and window drapes control and back up HVAC gas activated unit.

In those days  we designed, crafted and constructed this home to be Energy Efficient, using then current technology, some of which was experimental and other proven methods from scientists and master architects from post millennial periods. This client has a highly efficient, simple, comfortable residence, and we believe it is a proven example of what can be done with thought and study plus the faith to think outside the box during those crisis times.

The Cape Cod weather system is four seasons, glorious in the summer and fall, severe in the winter and exceptionally windy and rainy in the spring. Temperatures range from below 0F, especially with the wind chill factor in the winter, to over 100F with 80 - 90 degrees humidity in the summer. During the winter season, Buzzards Bay, which is salt water, sometimes is covered with ice chunks as far as the eye can see. Summer hurricanes produces water and waves that constitute emergencies for coastal regions.

  • House first floor center combination wood and coal stove. Brick chimney and second floor open vents heat assist second floor heating distribution with area ceiling fans as may be optional.
  • Natural gas propelled groundwater well pump/controls and hot water supply. Bathrooms have showers only and all sinks have low flow water equipment. The kitchen sink water excesses are saved as brown water during the garden planting seasons.
  • The original owners, Bill and Mary, harvested firewood from the property and sometimes as debris from Buzzards Bay. Now their children & grandchildren continue the tradition.

Primary heating is the Sun on the interior insulated slab covered with tiles for the majority of the first floor with floor vents and fans feeding the second floor. Curtains on the South facing sliders were thermostat controlled curtain opening and closing winter and summer. The owners eventually eliminated this feature and just adjusted the Curtains for heating and cooling on their own...since they needed to replace the old ones due to sun damaged. Back up heating is the wood stove in the center of the living room with a center brick chimney system going through to the second floor. An old HVAC system for vented heat ducts in the bathrooms and second floor which is rarely needed.

Hot water and cooking was by propane initially and now natural gas which is available. Water service via their well and currently an adjustable electrical pump. Electrical standard AMP panel with added surge protectors to harness sometimes weather affected electrical feeds.

the old barn

  • Sliders facing South/Southeast for Winter passive solar gain utilizing first floor concrete and tiled areas. Opaque Slider drapes for sunlight control of the Slider windows bank.
  • The electrical main panel supply with surge protectors, florescent lighting with dimmers, ground fault plug with insulated pads in back of plates on all exterior wall locations.
  • Much of the framing and trim wood were from a local sawmill in Carver, Massachusetts. Construction debris kept minimal, and wood pieces were utilized for heating from the stove for the interior finish construction categories which was primarily winter season work.



In essence, this house project constructed 27 years ago incorporated the technologies available with a combination of people, thinking outside the box, and living in conjunction with Nature as custodians and celebrants.

In all our projects we try to educate and promote sustainable design to our prospective clients. The 1984 house was our third project with this focus and assumed responsibility. With owners' permission, we can show you more similar projects.

We hope you want to know more. Contact Peter -

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Employee Owned & Operated

We educate, advocate and include sustainable energy features where possible with all of our renovation,
new building and restoration projects. We are facilitators of sustainable and energy saving building & renovation practices since the early 1980's.

EPA Certified Firm

We are facilitators of
Passive House Design Principals


Contractor Supervisor License #016018
Home Improvement Contractor #100011
City of Boston Building License #B20374
Commonwealth of Mass Lead Safe License #L-W000052
EPA Certified #NAT 21989-0

Cape Painting and Carpentry, Inc.
24 Bay Road - P.O. Box 39
North Falmouth, MA 02556-0039

Tel. 508-563-9393