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When John Abrams, founder and CEO of South Mountain Company in West Tisbury, Martha’s Vineyard, tackled a decrepit 1943 cottage in Aquinnah, the rebuild included a deep energy retrofit. The homeowners, a professional couple in Washington, D.C., with five children, knew they had their architect and builder when Abrams said a teardown wasn’t inevitable. “We liked the idea of saving something old,” the homeowner says. “John was the first one who said he could work with it. We had a meeting of the minds very early.” Abrams, the founder of the employee-owned company, also felt a solid partnership. “They were sensible, adventurous, and trusting,” Abrams says of the couple. “The collaboration was really rewarding.”

201203hsp_022 Abrams used several strategies to save energy. Along with South Mountain designer Derrill Bazzy and engineer Marc Rosenbaum, Abrams wrapped the entire house with insulation and installed triple-glazed windows, reducing air leakage by 90 percent. Then the crew installed air source heat pumps and a heat recovery system for ventilation. The final touch was a solar electric system on the south-facing roof. 

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Mary Grauerholz

Mary Grauerholz is the communications manager of the Cape Cod Foundation and a freelance writer.

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