Build Green NM Gold-Rated Solar Adobe

A traditional-style adobe home surrounding a center courtyard has just been completed north of Santa Fe. Owners John and Linda Dressman did the wooden bond beam, the carved portal rafters and posts, the ceiling beams, painted decking, interior finish woodwork and laid the brick floors. They hired Daniel Buck Construction, Inc. to fill in the rest of the work and coordinate the project.


The home, which achieved a gold rating with Build Green New Mexico, has radiant floors with a high-efficiency boiler. It has one-quarter the air leakage of an average home, thanks to an Energy Recover Ventilation system, R-12 floors, R-26 walls and an R-85 roof.


Outside there is a 4.7 kWh photovoltaic system and an array of 192 square feet of hydronic solar collectors for hot water and space heat, strategically controlled by a state-of-the-art Solar Logic control board, monitored and tweaked from the home computer. The parapets, canales, windowsills and portal roofs are Corten steel, providing long-term, maintenance-free protection for those key areas of the home’s shell. The interior is complete with diamond plaster walls and handcrafted doors and cabinets.



An Adobe Straw-Bale Home

Bob and Julie Dunsmore, co-founders of the San Luis Valley Solar Energy Association of Colorado, with help from friends, built a home in Vallecitos, New Mexico, incorporating the finest features of two natural building materials. An adobe floor in the house holds and radiates solar heat in the winter, releasing it under the owners’ feet. Straw-bale walls keep the sun’s heat out in the summer and the heat in during the winter.


Thirty-six feet of glass on the south side provide a glorious view of the Vallecitos River Valley. The glass lets in solar energy, which heats the adobe floor. There is insulation under the floor so the stored heat will not be lost to the ground.


The straw-bale wall provides an insulative R-value of over 40. The stucco on the inside is a radiant adobe; it radiates heat because it is covered with a micaceous slip that glows when light strikes its sculptured surface. The house’s metal roof also plays an important role in heating as well as cooling the house.


Julie and Bob Dunsmore may be contacted at





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