Halfman Green Home on Tour – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Halfman Green Home on Tour

The newly-constructed Green home of Professor of Geoscience John Halfman, his wife Barb Halfman, geoscience technician, and their family, will be included in the Geneva Historical Society’s Tour of Homes. The home is cited as being “totally green” and including radiant floor heat. According to Halfman, it is really only mostly green because they couldn’t take advantage of every green technology they would have liked. However, “We still use propane for backup heat, instant hot water and cooking. But the house does take advantage of passive solar, has energy efficient appliances, has solar photoelectric technologies and is very well insulated. It also utilizes natural lighting, and natural ventilation and shade for the summer,” he says.

The Halfmans hadn’t moved into the home at the time of the interview for the article, but moved this week and are working on getting things out of boxes in time for the tour.

Assistant Professor of Art Rick Hauser and his firm, In Site: Architecture in Perry were the architects for the house.

Hauser explains some of the key differences between the Halfman home and traditional construction. “The first, most important thing to do when trying to build with a smaller environmental footprint, is to build with a smaller actual footprint. We designed the home with spaces that multitask, with spaces that feel larger by “borrowing” visual depth from other spaces or taller volumes, and with limited excavation.”

They also developed a Hearth Wall concept in which all utilities are concentrated in an 8-foot wide trench below the house, and all the “guts” of the house are concentrated in this central wall, which also contains the physical hearth (the fireplace) and the social hearth (the kitchen counter).

Proper orientation, south glass, and overhangs regulate summer sun while admitting winter rays, while operable low windows on the south side, high windows on the north side and an open floor plan encourage natural cooling breezes in the summer.

A super-insulated envelope limits air infiltration and will greatly reduce the amount of energy required to keep everyone comfortable next winter. And the radiant flooring puts the heat where it’s needed and results in human comfort at a lower temperature than a forced air system.

Hauser will be giving a lecture at the FLI’s Seneca Room on March 10, titled ” Geneva, NY LLC: The Case for Private-sector Rehab.” He will speak about the imperative of “community entrepreneurism,” the steps involved and the nuts and bolts of buying and rehabilitating downtown buildings. More information about this talk is available on the Finger Lakes Institute’s workshops page.

Finger Lakes Times
There’s no place like home
Carrie Nicchi • March 4, 2009

GENEVA – Geneva Historical Society volunteers have something special in mind for this year’s Tour of Homes.

“We are excited to be offering homes from four different centuries – from colonial to totally environmentally green,” said Karen Achilles and Karen Fouracre, co-chairs of the event. “House tour participants will be able to appreciate the development of America, as seen through its housing.”

They said it took about a month to carefully select the homes to include. At one end of the spectrum there’s John Brennan’s 1797 home at 9 & 11 Park Ave., and at the other is John and Barb Halfman’s energy-efficient home – with radiant-heat floors – across from Fox Run on Route 14.

“I’m a little nervous to have so many people coming through my home,” Barb Halfman said last week.

Who can blame her? The family of five won’t be moving in themselves until next month.

“The biggest challenge was building it ourselves. It’s a non-standard design, so it is not a cookie-cutter house. It took a couple of years to complete, but again that’s because we built part of it ourselves.”

In 2006 and 2007, roughly 700 people bought tickets for the Tour of Homes and organizers said they hope to do as well this year.

List of homes by date:

1797 – John Brennan’s home on 9 & 11 Park Avenue.

1813 – Matt Parrott’s B&B “White House on (98) Washington Street.”

1827 – Two apartments in the Bauder/Penta/

Osburn house at 46 Park Place.

1827 – Centennial Center, 603 South Main St.; extensive renovations were done in 2008.

1835 – Balmanno Cottage, 583 South Main St.

1840 – Bruce and Keren Tuxhill’s Barn/Home on Earls Hill Road. Renovated in the 1940s and again in the 1970s.

1878 – Scott and Ruth Osborn, Route 14 next to Fox Run.

1998-99 – Kathy and Gary Garcia, South Kashong Drive.

2009 – John and Barb Halfman’s totally green house, Route 14, across from Fox Run.