Northwest Energy Star Super-Efficient Homes—#3: The O’Neill in Meadow Ranch

Posted by Neil Grigsby on February 07, 2013
Northwest Energy Star Super-Efficient Homes—#3: The O’Neill in Meadow Ranch
The exterior of the O'Neill in Meadow Ranch.

The O’Neill, part of the Meadow Ranch community in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, is one of six super energy-efficient homes being highlighted this year by Northwest Energy Star Homes—in collaboration with builders, utilities, and homeowners—to increase awareness and adoption of advanced building practices and products that can improve quality, comfort, and energy efficiency in new homes.

Check out #1, “The Inspiration Home” blog post, and #2, The House of the Immediate Future, and visit soon to read up on the rest of the houses, which will be profiled in the weeks to come.

Older and Wiser

Quick! Describe the owner of a "green” house. If stereotypes hold, chances are good the description included attributes like “young” and “urban.”

But that is not the case in the Meadow Ranch active adult 55+ community in Coeur d’Alene, an infill community composed of cottage-style Energy Star and LEED-Platinum/Gold certified homes.

The O’Neill Owns Efficiency

One of the centerpiece homes, the O’Neill, is the first and only LEED Platinum certified home in the area. The 1,500 sq. ft. home is projected to use 90% less energy for heating than one built to meet local and state building codes.

Meadow Ranch incorporates the following features that contribute to a low annual heating bill and more comfortable year-round living:

  • Radiant in-floor heat
  • Daiken Athermal Air to Water Heat Pump System
  • Panasonic Energy Star exhaust fans and energy recovery ventilator (ERV) fresh air systems
  • Mitsubishi electric ductless heating and cooling  system
  • 2x6 walls with R-23 formaldehyde-free recycled, dense pack blown-in cellulose insulation 
  • R-49 attic insulation; R-15 rigid foam under slab
  • Energy heel wall construction and insulated hot water lines
  • Dual-glazed, low-emittance (Low-E) windows with <29 U-value that results in fewer drafts and air leaks
  • Solar tubing for natural light
  • 90% Energy Star lighting/fan package
  • Low-to no-volatile organic compounds (VOC) interior paints, varnishes and glues making for cleaner indoor  air-quality
  • Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index of 46, compared to an Index of 100 for the average code built home (

A Community that Caters to Green

Meadow Ranch, a rural oasis located close to great shopping, recreational activities, medical, and many more conveniences, is an Idaho Smart Growth & Green Building award-winning community. There are currently 36 homes built to the stringent guidelines of Northwest Energy Star Homes and U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification programs.

Designed by builder Dennis Cunningham, president of ActiveWest Builders (AWB), Meadow Ranch fulfills his mission to combine green building with “smart growth”—creating a friendly, easily accessible, diverse neighborhood, which cost-effectively utilizes land in an urban setting, while maintaining a strong sense of place.

Among the amenities in Meadow Ranch are organic community gardens, composting, low-maintenance yards, drip irrigation and rain buckets at down spouts. Recycled, low emission and locally sourced materials are used, and 95% of construction waste is diverted from landfills. There is connectivity to medical facilities, schools, bike routes and open space; and a nature trail meanders around the community.

Building Lean, Building Green

For Cunningham, Energy Star certification and third-party verification are a standard baseline for each home, not an upgrade. AWB is the only firm in northern Idaho and eastern Washington building on a production level homes that exceed Energy Star’s minimum standards for energy efficiency. It’s the exclusive builder of LEED certified homes in Coeur d’Alene.

Kootenai Electric Cooperative (KEC) supports the adoption of energy-efficient construction practices for builders like ActiveWest by providing Energy Star incentives of up to $1,500 per home.

To learn more about Meadow Ranch and other super-efficient homes, visit

Neil Grigsby oversees NEEA’s Northwest Energy Star Homes initiative, which encourages builders across the region to build more efficient homes using new technologies and building practices. His experience includes a degree in urban studies from the University of Washington, and in designing, planning, and implementing energy-efficiency programs along with public outreach and education.

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