ESE Seminars / An affordable zero energy house design and built / Umit Sirt, PE, CEM, HBDP

An affordable zero energy house design and built

–Hemşin House


Umit Sirt, PE, CEM, HBDP

Senior Engineer, Partner | Taitem Engineering, PC 110 S Albany St | Ithaca, NY 14850

Place: Mechanical Engineering Building Seminar Room
Date/Time: 27-Feb-2020, Thursday 14:00-16:00


Hemşin House is a two-story single-family home completed in December 2016 on a hilltop overlooking Cayuga Lake, located in 1143 Perry City Road. This 2,240 sqft innovative building earned both LEED for Homes Platinum certification and zero energy designations affordably. The building design includes high-performance building envelope and air-sealing techniques, right-size lighting, heat pump water heater, heat pump dryer, and efficient HVAC system, lighting and ventilation controls designed to achieve zero net energy on an annual basis with on-site solar PV generation.

The integrative design process drew on the talents of a strong local project team, consisting of architect Ernie Bayles, construction manager Michael Carpenter, and Courtney Royal, LEED AP and LEED For Homes Green Rater, with energy consulting and engineering support by Umit Sirt, PE. The husband and wife team of Royal and Sirt is the owner/builder of the residence. Both are employed at Taitem Engineering in Ithaca, NY.

Building Features: Zero Energy building, Energy Star-certified, LEED for Homes Platinum certification awarded, Indoor AirPLUS certified, and WaterSense certification; R-45 exterior wall insulation with double-stud wall (R-15 continuous, R-30 cavity mineral wool insulation), R-60 ceiling blown-in cellulose insulation, R-16 Slab insulation. Optimum window-to-wall ratio (WWR); mini-split air-source heat pump (single head) with backup electric baseboards in bedrooms); domestic hot water (DHW) packaged air-source heat pump; 6.9kW roof-mounted solar array; daylighting through 45° wedged wall around windows and highly reflective surfaces and paints; Energystar appliances, Ventless heat-pump dryer, moisture control exhaust ventilation, photosensor and motion controlled exterior lighting, LED fixtures with careful designed low lighting power density in interior, advanced wall-framing, low-VOC coatings, paints, sealants and adhesives throughout; local hardwoods (new and reclaimed); stormwater management via swales that feed on-site pond; 100% post-consumer recycled paper and petroleum-free resin kitchen countertops.

During this seminar, Umit Sirt will describe their overarching goals and the considerations that guided the design and construction process, and the results of the post-construction measurement and verification after two years of occupancy and operation. He will discuss how the light-filled interior was created with a relatively low 15% window-to-wall ratio (WWR), wedged walls surrounding all windows, and the use of highly reflective paints and surfaces. We will get a close look at the heat pump technology, which is provided for clothes drying, domestic hot water, and of course heating and cooling.  Other sustainability strategies, other than zero energy, will also be discussed that includes zero water, natural materials, such as reclaimed and local hardwoods used throughout the building, onsite rainwater management, and the use of a grassed swale and native drought tolerant landscaping.

The objectives of this seminar are included as following;

  1. Understand the complexities of the incremental construction cost of a high-performance house and how to a make zero energy building affordable.
  2. Describe how energy modeling assist during design directed the use of extensive wall insulation to reduce the size of HVAC system and explore how daylighting can be maximized by pairing a low window-to-wall ratio with reflective surfaces and paints and wedged windows, and identify energy saving appliances and techniques, which reduce electrical loads sufficiently to be covered by a roof-mounted solar PV array at a smaller capacity.
  3. First year measurement and verification results (by fuel analysis) discuss the overall building energy use during as-operation versus as-designed energy model, and the annual COP of the heat pump technology versus the manufacturer COPs; additionally, explain the potential shortcoming of heat pumps during the application.
  4. Second year measurement and verification (by data loggers in each end use type) results explore and discuss each end-use’s energy consumption during as-operation versus the as-designed energy model and explain the causes of differences between them. The annual COP of the heat pump will also be examined with collected data.
  5. Talk about the “lessons learned” from all this design, construction and post-construction measurement and verification process.



Short Bio:

Umit Sirt, PE, HBDP, CEM, Principal/Senior Energy Engineer, is the technical manager of Taitem’s Energy + Sustainability Department. His work focuses on energy modeling for high-performing and zero energy buildings in the residential and commercial sectors. He consults on highly energy-efficient design of new buildings and on building energy retrofits. Umit provides technical assistance under several New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) programs, including Emerging Technologies, New Construction Program, Low- and Mid-Rise Multi-family New Construction, Net Zero, and Flexible Technical Assistance. Umit became one of the first High-performance Building Design Professionals in New York and was also a provisional assessor in ASHRAE’S Building Energy Quotient Pilot Program (bEQ).  His one most recent zero energy building design and energy consultancy (Perdita Flats) awarded by Buildings of Excellence competition (given by NYSERDA). Umit has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Middle East Technical University (METU) in Turkey and an M.E. in Mechanical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey.