Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Science of Human Comfort, and Other Topics

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Leigha Dickens
Green Building and Sustainability Manager, Deltec Homes

I love my job at Deltec.  I enjoy talking to our clients about their ideas on green building and energy efficiency.  I get to design better wall systems, do energy models on proposed home designs, and learn and research a lot of cool stuff.

As part of that “learn and research a lot of cool stuff” aspect of my job, I recently attended the 19th Annual Westford Symposium on Building Science, aka Building Science Summer Camp. Just like after any good camp, I have returned exhausted but energized by my experience.

Building science is not all fun and games, nor is it really a camp: it is a conference for experts, where they can immerse themselves in the newest, grittiest dispatches from the fields of physics, engineering and environmental science that go into making buildings last, helping them stay comfortable and healthy, and helping them minimize energy use. As Deltec’s Green Building and Sustainability Manager—and as a physicist by training—I was surprised and honored to find my name on the invitation list, and eagerly claimed my spot.

The Camp is put on each year by the venerable Joe Lstiburek of Building Science Corporation, a Canadian engineer who began his career with one of the earliest energy efficiency programs in North America. Most energy rating systems and energy codes in North America have been greatly influenced by the research he and his company have done.

It’s not often I get to satisfy my inner building physics geek under the tutelage of such talented speakers. The schedule was jam packed. For me, the highlights included:

• Getting a well-done overview on the factors that affect thermal comfort in a home, and how to better work with our HVAC systems. How comfortable we really feel within a room is affected by far more than just the temperature we see on our thermostat.

• The latest field and modeling research on the moisture resistance and superior thermal performance of double stud walls—quite relevant, as Deltec offers a double stud wall to our customers.

• Getting an insider’s look at the vast dataset provided by NEST thermostats—those snazzy thermostats with the nice design that promise to learn your habits and help you save energy. NEST thermostat provides that data to an engineering firm for technical analysis. Never have we had access to such widespread, complete data on how people actually manage those systems in their homes. Undoubtedly this kind of information can help us improve comfort and efficiency (although NEST aficionados may want to be duly advised: big brother IS watching).

• Networking with fellow women in the building science field, younger colleagues just entering the field, representatives from nearly all major insulation manufacturers, professors of building physics, experts on heating and cooling systems, and builders from all over the US.

People often ask me “Just what it is you do at Deltec Homes, anyway?” It’s not always easy to answer them succinctly. I interact with many of our clients personally: answering questions; researching products; helping with insulation, HVAC, or passive solar considerations; as well as working behind the scenes on our manufacturing operations to help improve their environmental sustainability by cutting waste and increasing renewable energy use.

From now on, saying “I do building science” might be a good way to sum up those things. As buildings get more efficient and better insulated, get built of more complex and varied materials, as HVAC systems get more complex, and as consumers demand solutions that not only work better for them but also minimize or eliminate impact on the environment, building science becomes a crucial field of study.

Congratulations to the Winner of our Prince Edward Island Giveaway

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Congratulations to the winner of our Prince Edward Island Trip for Two giveaway, Edwin Symmes, and wife Rhena! Edwin has a passion for photography and architecture, while Rhena is a painter and has exhibited locally in their town. They plan on a fall trip to PEI, where they are looking forward to discovering PEI from an artistic point of view. (And lucky for them, the International Shellfish Festival coincides nicely with their planned itinerary.)

Edwin and Rhena are long time fans of Deltec and actually attended one of our homebuilding seminars a few years ago. They saw the opportunity to enter Deltec’s giveaway on Facebook. Edwin says, “We are excited, delighted and looking forward to the trip, and thrilled to experience the Deltec rotating structure in such an abundantly beautiful location.”

Edwin and Rhena, we know you will enjoy staying in Canada’s Rotating House – Around The Sea. We hope you’ll share plenty of pictures from your vacation to our Facebook page!

thrilled to get to experience the Deltec rotating structure on such an abundantly beautiful location.

First Local Home from Deltec’s Renew Collection Under Construction

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Asheville couple Rick and Maureen Winkenwerder have always wanted to retire in a high-performance home. Having been familiar with Deltec, they set out to learn more with a tour of our solar-powered manufacturing facility. As a carpenter, Winkenwerder knew what he was looking for.

“Quality of lumber is very important,” he said. “A prefabricated home was appealing because it keeps lumber out of the elements where it could otherwise accumulate mold and moisture.”

Best known for our custom round homes, the Renew Collection consists of nine pre-designed models in styles ranging from round to Arts and Crafts to modern. Each reduces energy consumption by up to two-thirds in comparison to a typical home. The remaining one-third can be powered with renewable energy.

Even though the Renew Collection was brand new at the time, the couple didn’t hesitate.

“We knew we wanted a highly energy efficient, low maintenance, one-level home, so we chose the Ridgeline model. We didn’t really think about it being the first in Asheville,” said Winkenwerder.

The Ridgeline has 1,604 square feet, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and passive solar design, among other energy efficient features. Once delivered, the shell was assembled in 13 days.

Winkenwerder is acting as his own general contractor and builder, allowing him to fulfill his “40-year-dream” of building his own home.

“Rick has always been interested in green building concepts and I constantly look for ways to be more self-sufficient. This way we do it at our own pace,” said Maureen Winkenwerder.

“The idea behind the Renew Collection was to make it easier to build a home that goes beyond reducing environmental impact to creating a positive effect,” said Leigha Dickens, green building and sustainability manager for Deltec. “The pre-design aspect makes building a high performance home more cost-effective and therefore more attainable.”

Upon completion, the couple will apply for Energy Star-certification and plan to eventually add solar panels to achieve net-zero energy.

“I think everyone is leaning toward more energy efficient houses, especially in this area. There’s so much support for it,” said Maureen Winkenwerder.

President of Deltec Steve Linton agrees that building homes to this level of efficiency is more than just a trend.

“We keep coming back to an essential question: what will the homes of our grandchildren be like?” said Linton. “This is really the future of homebuilding.”

Ridgeline, Energy Star, sustainable home

From the left: Rick and Maureen Winkenwerder take a break from building and enjoy the front porch of their Renew Collection home; Interior view showing the vaulted ceiling and clerestory windows; Rick, an experienced carpenter, cuts wood to size. Rick is owner-builder for the construction of their home.

Top of page: Front and back views of the Ridgeline in progress, one of nine high performance home models in Deltec’s Renew Collection.

Deltec Homes Expands the Renew Collection with Three New Models

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

We’re excited to officially launch three new models for the Renew Collection. The new models include the Aster, an 861-square-foot tiny round home; the Chestnut, an Arts and Crafts style home; and the Highland, a modern design.

deltec's tiny home, the aster

The Aster was created amidst the tiny home movement. Though it has an extremely small footprint, the large outdoor space and open floor plan make it very livable. The Chestnut is a craftsman-style home that offers that old bungalow charm without the inefficiencies. The Highland is the largest home in the collection with 1669-2170 square feet. It’s very modern, spacious and gives a lot of natural light.

The addition of these three models brings the total number of homes in the Renew Collection to nine. Each is designed to use two-thirds less energy than a traditional home and can easily achieve net-zero living. The pre-designed floor plans enable a faster and more cost-effective build. Our goal is to make high performance and net-zero homes more attainable. Eliminating the time and costs that go into designing a custom home is a huge component of that.

arts anbd crafts style home

This is the first addition to the Renew Collection and we plan to continue adding new models each year. “A lot of research goes into designing a home that performs on this level,” said Leigha Dickens, green building and sustainability manager. “However, we want to have models that appeal to everyone, so it’s a challenge we’re eager to take on.”

Download a new Renew Collection booklet or visit our website to view floor plans

Green Home Design in Real Time

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Deltec Home’s presentation at the 2015 Mother Earth News Fair in Asheville was a huge success. Nearly two hundred people came out to hear our President, Steve Linton, and our Green Building and Sustainability Manger, Leigha Dickens, work with the audience to design, in real time, a dream green home.

It’s not the first time Linton and Dickens have presented to Fair attendees, but this year was the most dynamic so far: the presentation was interactive, and the speakers and the audience worked together to design a hypothetical green home. Modeled after the “choose your own adventure” style books of our childhood, where readers are allowed to make choices that can lead to different alternate endings, Steve and Leigha presented the audience with many of the key decisions that customers who seek to build a custom green home are often faced with making. After presenting the pros and cons, they allowed the audience to vote on the various options presented, taking a show of hands for each option, and keeping a running tally of the resulting up-front investment in the hypothetical home. Participants left with a better understanding of the key decisions they might make in designing their own home, how those decisions can affect the overall budget, and in what order those decisions are best made.

Accompanying this presentation were two handouts. The first gave an outline of each of the key decisions, and some key questions for homeowners to ask themselves when making these decisions. A second handout gave some more detailed information on the technical side of heating, cooling, and ventilation systems.

Given the high degree of interest in the information provided, we’re providing downloadable  PDFs of the handouts. We hope you’ll find them useful, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email us, at

Meet Three New Renew Collection Models

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

arts anbd crafts style home

Deltec added three new models to the Renew Collection this month, bringing the offerings in our predesigned series of high performance homes up to nine. As you can see from these renderings, our predesigned collection does include conventional, non-round homes, but any comparison to traditional homes ends there: the Renew homes are specifically designed to use 2/3  less energy than a traditional home, with the option of easily going all the way to net-zero living.

We’re propelling the concept of high performance, net-zero homes into the mainstream. Why? It’s a part of our ongoing mission to reduce environmental impact by creating a positive, restorative effect on the earth.

Contact us for a free copy of our new 32-page Renew Collection booklet today!

deltec's tiny home, the aster

Top: the Chestnut, an Arts & Crafts style home available in two floor plan variations, both at 1852 sq. ft.
Middle: the Aster, Deltec’s tiny home, available in a one- or two-bedroom floorplan, both at 861 sq. ft.
Bottom: the Highland, available at 1792 sq ft or 1992 sq ft

Spoiler Alert: Deltec’s Tiny (Re)New Home

Monday, March 9th, 2015

architectural rendering and floorplan

According to Wikipedia, the small house movement is a return to houses less than 1,000 square feet, some as small as 80 square feet. And while we find the idea commendable, we also realize that ‘downsizing’ means different things to different people. If you’re not yet ready to divest yourself of all your personal belongings to live in a house trailer, we have wonderful news for you.

The Aster, part of Deltec’s growing collection of high performance, predesigned homes in the Renew Collection, comes in at a total of 861 sq ft, made up of a quintessential Deltec round, at 517 sq ft, and a ‘just-the-right-size wing, at 344 sq ft.

Predesigned for high performance and even net-zero living, this little gem allows you to live large: without the need for load-bearing interior walls, the floor plan results open and spacious, a feeling that is reinforced by our signature domed ceiling in the ‘great’ room. An optional outdoor pavilion adds 300 sq ft of outdoor living space. This little gem has us very excited, even though you won’t find it on our website yet! Above is a sneak peek at the rendering in progress and the one-bedroom model, one of two floor plans available. If you want more info, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Immersive and interactive: the unconventional school

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

It’s no surprise that forward-thinking schools think outside of the box when it comes to student curriculum. But many schools take out-of-the-box thinking one step further, applying it to the building envelope of the school.

And why not? Curriculum is shifting, subjects are blending and methods for engaging students are changing — many facilities are adapting to the increasing demands of  collaborative learning, project-based instruction and technology.

Such a school is under construction on the banks of the French Broad River in Woodfin, North Carolina, next to Woodfin’s river park on a little more than three acres of land that was donated to the school. The French Broad River Academy (FBRA) is designed using two Deltec structures that will be raised 12 feet on pilings, allowing water to move under the building in the event of flooding. The project should be completed by Summer 2015, according to director of the FBRA, Will Yeiser.

FBRA teaches North Carolina’s essential standards and the common core curriculum, but also uses the river to boost confidence and teach other skills.

“The close proximity of the buildings to the water created challenges in the design of both the site and the structure. We elevated the building up well beyond the required heights so in a flood event the buildings will remain unharmed, with the added benefit of the classrooms enjoying a great view of the French Broad River,” architect Robert Todd said.

Said Steve Linton, president of Deltec Homes, “The Deltec structure has a strong track record in creating an excellent learning environment that is built to last. Our collaboration with FBRA and the architect led to an entirely new Deltec structure that allows the school a space much larger than a standard Deltec, all while maintaining a high level of affordability for a high-performance commercial structure.”

The new facility will have about 10,000 square feet. The Deltec structures, which are enlarged versions of Deltec’s popular Crescent Chalet design, will enhance the rigorous curriculum with classroom spaces, but also the outdoor component and the experiential learning at the school. One building will have nine classrooms and office space, while the second building will be a multipurpose building, used as a performance space and indoor space for physical education classes.

From its opening in the fall of 2009 with six students, the boys school now has 68 students. All were present in January to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony of the new structure, when students, parents, and school and city officials took shovels in hand to mark the beginning of construction.

Said Linton, “The collaboration with the FBRA team has been exhilarating. We are confident that the FBRA students will be well supported in achieving the school’s mission of building character and integrity – also built to last for a lifetime.”

Top: Red Studio rendering of French Broad River Academy
Bottom: Rendering; Students enthusiastically wield shovels at the groundbreaking ceremony

Deltec’s Best of 2014

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

What a difference a year makes! 2014 was a truly momentous year for us as sales and production saw a decisive uptick. We have observed with pleasure that our homes appeal to an ever-widening circle of people, from all walks of life. It makes for a creative crop of Deltec homes, all over the world! However, our homeowners all have one thing in common: they recognize – and want – the extraordinary in terms of quality and design. Without further ado, here are the highlights from 2014.

Most DIY

Homeowners Kim and Debra Randall are proud of the fact that their home is “drenched in sweat equity”. While Kim did hire a General Contractor, there is not a phase of the build that they were not involved with: They cleared the land, did 99% of all interior drywall, 100% of the prime and paint, laid 100% of the hardwood floors (about 1200 sq ft), laid every single tile (entry and both bathrooms, including the walk-in shower), installed every cabinet in both bathrooms and the entire kitchen, and set all the stone work on the interior fireplace wall.

We’re not done yet! They laid the whole deck surface, all rails, built the steps and stained everything, did 100% of the stucco finish on the exposed basement walls, installed interior doors and hardware and installed insulation in the garage. Staining and installation of baseboard and built-in shelves are an ongoing process, but when complete, will have been done 100% by the Randalls! They have kept a wonderful blog of their adventures in round house building.

I think at this point we all share the same burning question…would they do it again? Says Kim, “A number of people I work with have built new houses in the time we have been working on this one, going for the most part largely turn-key in their build. Our mantra has become, all those folks can proudly show off their beautiful homes and say, “look what we bought”, while we can stand back and say, “look what we built”.  All the sweat equity has made this house our home in a way nothing else could.”

Most Renown Homeowners

This title goes without doubt to Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, two talented singers, songwriters, instrumentalists, educators and record producers. The two-time Grammy® Award-winning duo boasts a repertoire of traditional and contemporary folk, old-time country and swing music. Of course, their Deltec Monterey-in-progress will also include a music studio!

Best Water View

Sweeping bays of windows on the top two floors earn this Deltec its claim to fame – they offer a stunning view of Lake James in Nebo, North Carolina, which homeowners Ben and Elaine Nantz assure us is ever-changing and never boring. We also really like the stucco exterior and the distinctive design elements of  this two-story Chesapeake on a walk-out, finished basement. Whether you’re on the outside looking in, or inside looking out, Ben and Elaine’s home fits beautifully into its surroundings.

Tiniest Inhabitants

Looking suspiciously similar to our Cypress model, this tiny little home was built for none other than endangered Carolina Northern flying squirrels. Deltec hosted a special after hours ‘Nesting Box Build‘ in our manufacturing facilities. Working with fourteen volunteers and using scrap wood we had been saving for this purpose, we knocked out 62 homes for our furry little friends in a record-breaking 2 1/2 hours! Volunteers came from Deltec Homes and friends Wild South and the Mountain WILD! Chapter of NC Wildlife Federation. These boxes are an important component in the efforts of the NC Wildlife Commission to monitor the population of this rare animal.

Most Innovative Use of Wood Scraps

While it’s true we produce a lot less waste than standard construction practices, we still scrupulously recycle each and every piece possible, channeling it to various recycling initiatives. Last year we were asked by the talented artisans over at Apple Country Woodcrafters in Hendersonville, NC, to donate wood scraps for their toy making mission – they have turned out thousands of wooden toys for disadvantaged children since 1985, making this initiative our new favorite! Deltec president Steve Linton gave the toy’s performances a thumbs up after giving them a go.


The largest Deltec built in 2014  comes in at over 10,000 sq ft! A 3-story Vista complete with 2-story connect, and a garage complete with finished living space above, this is not however one of those huge homes built for two people to rattle around in. Rather, it will serve the needs of a very large, extended family – check out the curved breakfast bar and extensive seating in the dining area. You might be surprised to know that the largest Deltec ever designed is twice as large!


Small homes are big. Just ask Lewis A., proud new owner of a compact, 800 sq ft Camden model. Lewis shares the concerns of many for energy efficiency, economic freedom, and a desire for freedom from maintenance and cleaning. Lewis used Roxul mineral wool insulation, which is a naturally fire and moisture resistant insulation with a higher R-value than fiberglass, as well as passive solar design. His Camden is a small oasis of comfort, and is practical and attainable in both size and budget.

Top State
Not surprisingly, Deltec’s home state of North Carolina comes in at first place again this year for the number of new home builds, followed closely by Virginia. Third place is tied with Georgia, South Carolina, New York,  California and Oregon!

Most Exotic Foreign Location / Furthest

Located about 6,612 miles from Asheville, NC and 45 minutes outside of Ulaanbaatar  in Mongolia’s Terelj National Park, this Deltec, a 2-story Sierra model, nestles right into this 150 acre tourist camp. About 80% of its visitors are locals ‘getting away” from city life for the weekend, although there are also travelers on their way to and from Ulaanbaatar – distances and geography are such that a mid-way stopping point becomes essential. The Deltec serves as both hotel rooms and rooms for staff.

Most Unique Purpose

While none of us would be surprised to know that a Deltec was built for use as a home, or even to house a business, the news that a Deltec was built to house a carousel might understandably raise some eyebrows. But homeowner Mary Ellen and David S., in Ellisville, MS, did just that. Mary Ellen bought a working carousel and wanted to house it indoors, so as to always be available, no matter what the weather. Mary Ellen And David had already built a Deltec a few years ago, and  nothing made more sense to them than to place the carousel in another Deltec! Thanks to the self-supporting roof system she was able to place her carousel in a wide-open, 2,500 sq ft Vista model. They have made the carousel available to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

Most Popular Renew Model / Most Energy Efficient

Since we launched the Renew Collection in late 2013 we have sold over a dozen Renew homes, making it the most successful new product launch in company’s history. The majority of these have been the Ridgeline. This particular Ridgeline also crosses over to win the Most Energy Efficient Deltec built last year, and belongs to Dr. Marie DeVerneil, a professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Located in Virginia, the home will feature passive solar design, solar panels with battery backup, a double stud wall and mineral wool insulation. Building a home that had a low impact on the environment was top priority for DeVerneil. An organic farmer and mother of a LEED architect and oceanographer, she describes her herself and her family as very “green”.

Most Exciting Milestone

This 1,500-square-foot home was Deltec’s 5,000th home shipped! It is Green Built North Carolina Certified. Theresa and Tom Whetstine say when they decided to build a Deltec, they didn’t realize their home would mark a major milestone for the company. “Finding out that our future home was the 5,000th Deltec home made us even more excited,” said Theresa

Best Award

The Western NC Group of the Sierra Club awarded Deltec their 2014 award for Outstanding Green Business of the Year. Local Sierra Club leader Ken Brame said they chose Deltec for the energy efficient homes they build, including a net zero collection, and the fact that Deltec operates with 100% renewable energy. Brame also cited Deltec’s commitment to reducing excess construction waste from landfills –  currently at 81% – through recycling and reuse, with a goal of 0% landfill waste by 2016. Said Brame, “Deltec exemplifies the true meaning of being a “green business” and the Sierra Club is happy to recognize them for all that they do.”

Deltec Home Receives Green Built NC Gold Level Certification

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Deltec’s recent entry to the 33rd Annual  Parade of Homes, the Whetstine residence, received the Green Built NC Gold Level Certification and a HERS score of 60. The green features of the home include a sealed crawlspace to control humidity and keep ductwork efficiently inside conditioned space, spray foam insulation in the roof, wall insulation and decking materials made from recycled plastic, low-VOC paints and stains, bamboo flooring, all CFL lights, and sustainably forested cabinetry.