Design Choices

Upon becoming a Spoorhouse homeowner there will be many options to choose from. The original design for SpoorhouseEco, which won the 2008 LifeCycle Building Challenge - Outstanding Achievement Award, is the most resource efficient choice, but various alterations can be made to adopt the design to your living needs. You can choose from the following: Green Options, Foundation, Layout, and Decks. Link these options to the topics listed below

SpoorhouseEco is built with all green basics, including super-insulation, floor heating and cooling, whole-house ventilation with air-loop, passive solar and water conservation technologies. In addition it is built with all green options, including 2 active solar technologies, foam-flush toilets, grey-water processing, and rainwater recovery. SpoorhouseEco is completely off-the grid, and does not require any utilities. Active solar technologies provide electricity, HVAC and lighting. All wastes will be processed by foam-flush toilets and the grey-water processing system, and potable water will be provided by the rainwater recovery system.

SpoorhouseBasic is built with all green basics, including super-insulation, floor heating and cooling, basic whole-house ventilation, passive solar and water conservation technologies. This design only has a foundation with crawlspace, which does not allow for foam-flush toilets, grey-water collection, and rainwater collection system. It also does not include active solar technologies.

SpoorhouseCustom is also provided with the basics - super-insulation, floor heating and cooling, basic whole-house ventilation, passive solar and water conservation technologies. SpoorhouseCustom allows you to modify the design to your personal preference, and you can chose from the green options listed below.

Green Options

Active Solar
The roof of the upper floor is prepared and ready for the installation of solar panels. If you are unable to invest in a solar heating or photovoltaic system right away, we have prepared the structure for future installation of these systems.

A combination of flat-plate solar collectors for hot water heating and an array of Photovoltaic panels for electrical power generation will lower the use of electricity to almost zero.

Water Heating 2 flat-plate solar collectors sized 3'6" X 8' provide 100% of water need in summer and approximately 70% in winter. The sun heats water in the collectors and this hot water will be stored in an 80-gallon tank located on the ground floor.

Electrical Power Generation 22 photovoltaic panels with a capacity of 4,400 Watts, 5,300KW/yr provide 100% of power year-around. Depending on the place you are planning to build your Spoorhouse, power can be stored in a bank of batteries, or you can participate in a net-metering program with your local power provider. The provider will purchase excess power created by your system during the daytime, and sell it back to you for your power use at night.

See Image 9: Active Solar

Whole-House Heat Recovery Ventilation with Air-Loop
A whole-house heat recovery ventilation system transfers energy from exhaust air to incoming air. An air-loop under the basement preheats incoming air in winter and pre-cools in summer. This feature conserves more then 60% of heating and cooling costs.

See Image 5: Whole-House Ventilation

Foam-flush Composting Toilets
The foam-flush toilets look and function much like a conventional toilet fixture. It is a hygienic solution that uses a mixture of biocompatible soap and water to carry toilet waste to the composting system below. Each flush uses only 3 Oz. Of water, making it fully compatible with the composting process. A ventilation system continuously pulls air down each fixture creating an odorless bathroom. A composter in the cellar receives the waste, where bacteria will digest it. This is a readily available system.

See Image 10: Foam-Flush Toilets

Grey-Water Irrigation System
Wastewater from sinks, showers, laundry and dishwashers contains a low level of nutrients compared with total wastewater. This water is ideal for irrigation and fertilization of plants, such as trees, ornamentals and turf.

The grey-water irrigation system collects water from the house in a dosing basin, which dispenses the water to an irrigation chamber in the yard. The water will drain from the chamber into the soil. This is a readily available system.

See Image 11: Grey Water Processing

Rainwater recovery system
Rainwater from the roofs is drained to one leader on the west side of the house into a filtration system. From that system, water is guided into a 10,000-gallon storage tank under the house for potable water use. With an average rainfall of more then 30 Inches in most states, the roofs collect 80% of water use for a family of 4

See Image 16: Rainwater Collection System


One of the design concepts of Spoorhouse is that the house sits high on its foundation to avoid potential flooding. After choosing a site, it must be surveyed to determine the potential for flooding, and a grade height must be established. There will be an additional cost for soil preparation and excavation. The cost for these processes will highly depend on the site location and soil structure.


The basement foundation wall system used for Spoorhouse is pre-fabricated and assembled on site. The system uses 30% less concrete then conventional cast-in-place system, and contains 15% recycled fly ash. The foundation walls are insulated to R-13, and interior walls are paperless gypsum wallboard.

SpoorhouseEco includes a basement that houses a rainwater collection tank, the composter for the foam-flush toilets and the dosing basin for the grey-water irrigation system.

1 - Basement with rainwater collection tank A wall divides the basement in half, creating a 10,000-gallon water tank for storage of collected rainwater. A water filtration and pumping system will prepare the water for domestic water consumption

See Image 15: Cellar with Water Tank

Basement without water tank With a total floor surface of this basement is 500 square feet and house the composter and grey-water dosing basin. This volume offers enough space for additional storage or workspace

See Image 13: Cellar

3 - Crawl Space SpoorhouseBasic, the lowest cost SpoorhouseCustom has a crawl space. This type of foundation plan does not allow for green options such as foam-flush toilets and the grey-water irrigation system

See Image 14: Crawl Space


Both interior and exterior walls of Spoorhouse have been carefully designed. For energy efficiency reasons, all hot-water using fixtures and appliances are located within 4' of the hot water tank. Locations and sizes of exterior doors and windows are carefully chosen to take advantage of passive solar gains. Most interior walls are placed to hide structural beams. Still, there is room to customize the design to your preference. Thee custom choices can be discussed during the early design phase of the project


SpoorhouseEco is designed with decks on the north and south sides. These decks can be made of different materials, such as brick, concrete, wood or composite materials. The design and layout of these deck design will be determined at a later time in the process.

The base price for all Spoorhouse designs includes steps from all opening doors to grade level