Finding a Balance: Mountain Sun’s Shelburne Woods
By Garret K. Woodward
Just a few blocks from the bustling Haywood Road in West Asheville, the folks at Mountain Sun Building and Design are hard at work putting the finishing touches on the first home of their Shelburne Woods development.
“It’s definitely a community feeling we’re trying to create here,” said Jeb Boyd, co-owner of Mountain Sun. “We didn’t try to overdevelop this property. We have a lot of community space created within the neighborhood.”
With nine homes planned for the 1.9-acre property, Shelburne Woods will encompass a natural, comfortable feeling for its inhabitants. All nine homes adhere to Mountain Sun’s high standards for construction, and reflect an appreciation for preservation of the land. Each home is required to meet Green Built Platinum, Net Zero Certification, the highest standard a home can achieve in the Green Built program.
Launched six years ago, Mountain Sun combines the building talents and passion for the natural world of Jeb and his wife, Emily. The duo saw a need for what they ultimately want to present and construct for their clients—innovative designs with functionality that truly aim to work with the landscape, and not against it.
“There’s edible landscaping, with blueberries and figs, and also trail space at the bottom of the property,” Boyd said. “The sewer line actually runs primarily through land owned by a neighboring subdivision. They approached us about moving the sewer down to the path of the future Rhododendron Creek Greenway to save the trees on the hillside. At the same time, we recorded an easement through part of our property for the future greenway.”
“A house has so many natural resources involved in building it, and the worst thing you can do is waste all those natural resources, especially in just the construction of it,” Jeb said. “We build net-zero with a sensible design for the specific lot. We look for property that is south or southwest facing for the passive solar aspect—it’s free energy, otherwise you’d be consuming coal or natural gas to heat your house.”
Using all renewable energy, each home will be both passive and active solar. Shelburne Woods also features an electric-vehicle charging station for each home. The designs also incorporate as much natural lighting as possible, with emphasis on numerous south-facing energy-saving windows. Using 2×6 walls with advanced framing and spray foam insulation, the first home was able to achieve an air tightness of .58 ach50 which exceeds Passive House standards.
“Quality of light in the houses we build is very important, and we pay careful attention to window placement,” Jeb said. “We look at each home as an art project, built to high quality net-zero standards, but also something comfortable, with a natural feel for the inhabitants. For us, we put our heads down and do what we feel is right, what’s best for our company, and our passion for net-zero building practices.”
A lifelong sufferer of asthma, Jeb is quick to praise the difference in air-quality between this Green Built home and one built in the traditional sense, in terms of materials used and construction methods.
“There is no formaldehyde or harmful gases used in our designs and construction,” he said. “I grew up with asthma, with daily inhaled steroids. After we constructed our personal Green Built house, I’m now off all my medications. It’s a testament to the importance of paying attention to indoor air quality, especially with the toxicity of many conventional building materials.” Each of these homes will be all electric and will have no propane or natural gas, reducing risks associated with carbon monoxide. In addition, Mountain Sun used solid surface materials (reducing formaldehyde) wherever possible, zero VOC paints and installed high efficiency ventilation.
And as Shelburne Woods continues to break ground on the property, Mountain Sun is also pushing ahead with their personal and professional mission.
“We’re trying to be stewards of the environment, and to lead by example for our kids. If we can’t contribute on a large-scale capacity, at least we can do it one house at a time,” Jeb said. “Being in Asheville for over 20 years, we’re trying to bring something that’s valuable to the community here, something that’s long-lasting, something we can feel good about when go to bed at night.”
You can also view this article as it was originally published on page 50 of the 2017-18 edition of the directory.