Kennebunkport, ME – Genest Concrete, a manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer of architectural block and paving stones, has ventured out to build a residential home made from its insulated concrete block, Comfort Block. Designed to be used for high-efficiency home building, this innovative wall system promises to create a home that is healthy, quiet, comfortable, and resilient to extreme weather events.
The Comfort Block home is now under construction in the quaint town of Kennebunkport. The architect for the home, Hans Warner of Warner Design Associates, Portland, designed the house with many of the current Passive House principles in mind. The main body of the house faces south with large windows, which allows the sun to heat the house during the coldest months in Maine. The north side of the house has much smaller windows, limiting the loss of heat during the winter yet still allowing cross ventilation through the house during the summer. Overhangs on the roof function as protection for the house from the rain as well as creating shade over the windows during the summer months to prevent heat gain. Intus triple-pane windows from Lithuania were chosen to increase the overall insulation performance of the house, as well as a Siga high-performance house wrap from Switzerland for the hot roof. Siga window tape was also used to seal up any air leaks around the windows. Mineral wool insulation will be used in the rafters and cross insulated to create better thermal breaks.
The owners of the house did not wish to have a basement and opted for a super insulated slab on the first floor instead. The floor will have eight inches of EPS insulation as well as a vapor barrier under a 5-inch concrete slab. The second floor of the house is constructed using 10 inch pre-stressed insulated concrete planks.
Once complete, the house will be expected to be extremely air tight with an overall value of R-30 in the walls, R-61 in the roof, R-32 below the slab, and an overall R-9 window performance. The house will be heated using either a Rais wood stove insert or two mini split air-to-air heat pumps. Fresh air will be exchanged, filtered, and circulated using a Pohoda i-ERV with humidity control.
This house will be an example of a complete masonry home which is similar in construction to German Passive House home building. The volume of mass used in this home will assist in both the efficiency of the house as well as resistance to mold, mildew, fire, and extreme storms.
Genest Concrete’s goal with this project is to offer simple solutions for building high-efficiency homes, using a simple monolithic insulated masonry wall system to help simplify an often very complicated wall building process. Genest’s Comfort Block, along with other energy-efficient building products, has the potential to produce a healthy and durable home at a reasonable cost which is also reasonably simple to build.