HEAVENLY RETREAT: SOLAR SUSTAINABLE LIVING AT ITS BEST
For Sale for the First Time
By Joel Goldblatt
Vision and Location
As an early pioneer in the renewable energy field since 1985, I had a vision to create a solar powered, secluded mountain retreat designed for sustainable living that would unite technology and ecology, resilience, and beauty. After researching the location possibilities, I chose Angel Fire, New Mexico, in the southern Rockies. The property I selected is at 9,000’ elevation and is set amidst tall pine, aspen, and fir trees. It faces the Moreno Valley with views up to the highest point in New Mexico, which is Wheeler Peak at 13,160 feet.
Not only is the valley one of the most beautiful I had ever seen, there are 285 sunny days per year in Angel Fire. The US average is 205 sunny days. It is great for solar energy production and ideal for both outdoor and indoor gardening. The water is pure and plentiful, and with 48 acres+ of beautiful forest and meadows, we experience “solar seclusion” with neighbors a far distance away while elk, deer, turkeys, and many other birds are regular visitors. It is bordered on two sides by a 130,000-acre family ranch, which adds to the sense of privacy and the quiet of forest living while being only 2 miles from the main Chile Express High-Speed Quad chairlift on the Angel Fire Resort ski mountain, and from the Village of Angel Fire.
Solar Design — Harmony with Nature
I had studied both adobe and green architecture, astronomy and physics. I used all these disciplines to design the celestially aligned, passive and active solar home with 3 built-in integrated year-round producing greenhouses. The home is built to sustain all weather and last for at least a century. We used adobe, heavy beam, and recyclable product construction and insulation. It is a tribute to its environment being embedded into the forest floor — rising up with three terraced stories to a great room with a pyramid skylight.
With many solar alignments, the living spaces are designed to bring in natural light, day and night all year round, contributing to the sense of well being. The colors and the building materials combine with the sunlight to enhance the beauty and magic of interacting with the spectacular views of the forest and the mountains from the windows in every room. The result is a sense of living both indoors and outdoors — being aware of the sun, the wind, the moon, the stars, the trees, and the animals while enjoying the comforts and technologies of indoor living.
Stepping outdoors from one of the three patios, trails go off into the forest with over 48 acres of alpine forest and meadows, sharing the forest with the deer, elk, and other animals. The home was completed in 2002.
Solar Energy Systems & Food Production
Heavenly Retreat has a large solar thermal system for hydronic radiant floor heating and domestic hot water. There are 11 solar thermally heated zones for heating the 7,800 total square feet providing 180,000BTU’s/hr including three levels of living space, three interior greenhouses, heated storage areas, and the geodesic dome garage. At present, the solar thermal system accounts for about 60–70% of the heat, reducing propane use by 50–60%. The solar thermal system includes 11 exterior panels on the roof and is expandable.
The solar electric power generation consists of two systems. One system is a pair of tracking PV systems in the outdoor garden, comprised of 2 pole-mounted sun-tracking racks of 12 Solaria® panels which were upgraded in 2018. It produces approximately 5kW. The infrastructure is built and ready to add a third mast if desirable.
The second electricity generation system is built into the ceiling above the second-floor kitchen. This generates electricity and also serves as a solar window to the adjacent interior greenhouse. The kitchen solar panels are custom built-integrated photovoltaic panels (BIPV) installed in 2005. These panels could be upgraded with today’s bifacial panels to produce up to 6 kW in the same space.
These two systems currently produce 7 kW. With the upgrade of adding a third tracking mast in the garden and expanding the production in the kitchen ceiling with next-generation bifacial solar panels, the two systems are set-up to expand to produce up to 15 kW.
The battery backup system allows for 2 nights and 2 days without sunshine. This is also expandable. The batteries alternate between a “float” status and net metering with the local utility. The three interior greenhouses are heated with dedicated zones in the radiant floor heating system. The heating hoses are buried under the soil and provide a warm environment for the plant’s roots year-round within about 1,200 square feet of total interior growing spaces.
Sustainable Living — Resilience & Beauty
The intentional design of Heavenly Retreat is to promote well being and the appreciation of living surrounded by nature and beauty inside and out. We continually experience the sense of protection and satisfaction of producing our own solar power and growing our own healthy food. And … we found how living in this environment expands our creativity, enthusiasm, and enjoyment of everyday life. With today’s technology and the work-at-home trend that COVID has required, more people can experience this special way to live and work in harmony with the natural environment.
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*This article is supported by moonRE LLC, RE/MAX Mountain Realty (Phone: (505) 795-3773 Email: email@example.com)