Prefab Sustainable House with Geothermal System


Greg and Victoria met on a Montauk beach at first when they were teenagers. After many years they decided to leave Manhattan and to return to Long Island where together they wanted to build a sustainable house. The Hamptons hamlet is a perfect place for children during summer. And when they made a decision to have a dwelling where their family with sons, Lucas and Dylan, could escape from the busy city, they definitely knew where it should be.

Paul Masi of Bates Masi Architects is a Victoria’s brother and they decided to work with him. Masi designed a special house for his sister and for his brother-in-law; the main area of the house has a double-height; kitchen, living room and dining room are located in one space connected with outdoors with a large glass pocket doors. Victoria told that they didn’t want to separate the indoors and outdoors. The project was finished in 2008 after two years of works. The house is environmentally friendly; has a geothermal cooling and heating system and a prefabricated foundation. The family got as a result a beach house with the perfect design.

Passive System for Cooling and Heating


During spring and autumn the space of living room, dining rooms and kitchen can be ventilated naturally as it opens on two sides. In summer the direct sunlight is prevented by an overhang and in winter the house has a lot of light and warmth, because it is time when the sun is low.

There are two layers of aluminum woven-coil drapes outside the south-facing large windows above the living room. Due to drapes the house is kept from the overheating in hot months, but when the weather is cooler they allow the sun to warm the space. The texture and appearance of drapes are similar to fireplace netting; they are produced by Cascade Coil Drapery, an Oregon company, and made of recy­cled scrap metal. The company also supplies the hearth market.

Geothermal System for Cooling and Heating


The house’s geothermal system is open-loop; this system uses 55-dergee temperature of the groundwater for cooling and heating the house. An exterior condenser was not need, as the needed equipment is in the basement utility room. Masi said that here the salt air corrodes them; so they didn’t want to have the condenser and they wanted use geothermal instead.

There are several types of geothermal systems, to heat and cool house they use the constant temperature of Earth, in winter it is warmer than the open air and in summer it is cooler. What kind to choose and is it necessary to install one, depends on some factors.

In the Pryors’ and in other open-loop systems the pipes draw water from the well into the house, then heat pump extracts heat or transfers excess heat to the water before its return to the ground. And in system, called closed-loop, there is some special solution in the pipes; this solution acts as a heat exchanger in buried under-ground pipes. If there is enough clean water that is supplied to the heat pump, an open-loop system is considered to be much more economical, because there is required less excavation.

A pond-loop system has sub-merged pipes in a water. A horizontal-loop system pipes can be buried six feet in the ground. For not large houses, vertical-loop systems may be suitable, but the price of burying pipes deeper than 400 feet down, is pretty high.

The main advantage of geothermal system is that it is more economical than air-conditioning and gas furnaces systems. And it is much more expensive. Every year the owners can save a lot of money, up to 60 percent. Also the upfront cost can be offset by the tax incentives.

Prefab House Design


The foundation of structure is made of concrete insulated panels, which were produced by Superior Walls of Hudson Valley. They were shipped to the building site, craned and bolted together. There was no need for panels to be waterproofed or coated during building process, as the panels are made of water-resistant, dense concrete mix.

Because of a prefabricated exterior walls could have excessively high price, the architects decided to change their plan. But the panels, produced at Cement Board Fabricators’ factory, were used as the rain screen. The prefabricated panels help the house keep comfort temperature by absorbing and transferring heat through gaps made for ventilation between the siding and panels.

In the house Masi used finishes, which are low in toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde and benzene, and volatile organic compounds. For painting the interior walls, there was used Benjamin Moore Aura matte paint. Osmo Polyx-Oil was used for sealing the American walnut floors, this finish includes thistle, soybean, and sunflower oils among its components.

Architecture: Bates Masi Architects
Location: Long Island, New York
Year: 2008
Photos: Ty Cole









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