Colorado Veterans Center and Domiciliary at Homelake  |  Monte Vista, Colorado

This project consisted of the restoration and rehabilitation of 25 duplex domiciliary cottages that offer veterans independent and assisted living. The work included new accessible interiors, exterior repairs and repainting, window replacements, all new mechanical systems with geothermal sourced heat pumps, energy performance upgrades, accessible walkways, outdoor shade structures, and new landscaping. The project uniquely incorporated current building technologies while simultaneously restoring the historic characteristics of the original 1914, 1932, and 1939 cottages. One of the duplexes was converted to a clinic serving the resident population. Every dwelling unit in this project achieved LEED for Homes Platinum certification – the first assisted living units in Colorado to achieve this honor.

As part of the LEED for Homes™ process, the cottages’ energy efficiency was tested by a third-party rater based on the internationally recognized HERS Index scoring system. The initial evaluation showed that the existing cottages and central utility plant serving them were performing two times worse than code, at a HERS rating of 210! The renovated cottages are now performing 50% more efficiently than comparable new homes based on this system, earning HERS ratings of 49 and 50. A significant number of features incorporated into the homes contributed to these outstanding results.

One of the major contributors was the closed-loop geothermal heat pump system that serves as both the heating and cooling system for homes. The system was installed to the north of the cottages and although this area appears untouched, 42 400-foot holes were drilled to install piping to take advantage of the static temperature of the earth year-round. In addition to the geothermal HVAC system, a new 11-panel solar thermal system at the facility’s central plant provides preheated domestic hot water for the cottages. Energy modeling was used extensively to evaluate the effectiveness of potential improvements, and balance them to provide the most value for the dollar. Cellulose insulation was added to the attic of every cottage to bring them consistently up to R-50. Crawl spaces leading via tunnels to the central plant were insulated with spray foam to an R-value of 31.5, and interior walls furred in to add an additional R-21.4 on the inside of the exterior walls. These measures also served to significantly reduce the air infiltration in the aging structures—a major cause of heat loss.