Breckinridge Gets Its 1st LEED Gold Home

Summit County, Colorado, has its first LEED Gold certified residence – Sunshine Ridge, designed by Breckenridge architect Michael F. Gallagher –  which recently received Mountain Living Magazine‘s Peak Award.

Local factors definitely had an impact on the construction of this home, commissioned by an Oklahoma family for their land outside of Breckenridge. For instance, beetle-killed pine trees from the site that got cut down during construction were exchanged at the mill for processed beetle-killed lumber, which was then used for the exterior wood cladding and decking, interior doors, base and casing, interior railings and shelving, and even some of the home’s cabinetry. Salvaged railroad trestles were also recycled and used as structural timbers in the home.

Sunshine Ridge

image via Michael Gallagher

In going for LEED certification, though, Gallagher found he had to be selective in his choice of green technology for the home by virtue of Breckenridge’s 9,600 foot elevation. “On-demand water heaters are typically more energy efficient,” he explained, in a statement, “but up here with our lack of oxygen and our cold tap water, on-demand heaters don’t work well.”

To those critical of “big green homes” in the luxury or second home market, Gallagher said, “We need to appreciate the fact that these second homeowners have the financial resources to pioneer the green building systems right now. They are creating the demand and spurring invention and manufacturing to make sustainable building more affordable for everyone.”

Sunshine Ridge2

image via Michael Gallagher

The home features high efficiency lighting, natural wools, organic cottons, recycled materials, and low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) finishes and adhesives.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.