This house which is located up in the Robie Creek area was first started in 1979 after the owner read a magazine article titled “A Step Ahead in Solar Living.” The owner then worked on building it over the next eight years and it was finished in 1987. It’s style is quite unique and is called “thermal envelope.”
A thermal envelope or building envelope is the separation between the interior and the exterior environments of a building. Thermal envelopes circulate air throughout the house. The main significance of the house is that it is low energy. It uses the outer shell to protect the indoor environment as well as to facilitate its climate control. The solarium (the front space between the outer shell and the living space) is an important part of the climate control. The air circulates from a cooling vent outside the house into the basement, then through the solarium and the other spaces between the shell and the house, then back out through cooling vents at the top of the house. Even in summer, the indoor temperature of the house is typically around 77 degrees, even when the outdoor temperature is near, or above 100 degrees; and that is without air-conditioning! The building envelope design is a specialized area of architectural and engineering practice that draws from all areas of building science and indoor climate control.
It turns out that this house was the first thermal envelope house in all of Idaho. The house was so popular, that for a time, the owner had a guestbook for people to sign when they came to his house.