This year's New American Home is a 6,725-square-foot plantation-style house located in the Waters Edge subdivision on the banks of Orlando's Lake Nona, Fla. The two-story house features a family suite on the first level to accommodate an elderly parent or long-term guest, a first-floor master suite, an open kitchen and leisure room combination, and an upstairs club room with a theater-quality entertainment system.

The 2008 New American Home was built using energy-efficient products and practices that builders and remodelers can apply to their own projects.Photo: James Wilson Behind the stylish façade, however, are energy-saving technologies and features:

  • Exterior walls are aerated concrete block (R-value 8) with rigid foam insulation.
  • The front-hall cupola acts as a solar chimney, drawing hot air up and out, decreasing the load on the mechanical cooling systems.
  • The attic is sealed, not vented, and is indirectly conditioned. This eliminates moisture-laden air, resulting in a cooler attic and better operating efficiencies of the air-handling equipment.
  • Both solar thermal water heating and instant hot water heaters are used.

The New American Home is co-sponsored by the National Council of the Housing Industry (NCHI) and REMODELING's sister publication, BUILDER. To ensure the home's energy efficiency, two U.S. Department of Energy Building America teams worked closely with NCHI. Integrated Building and Construction Solutions (IBACOS), a building science firm in Pittsburgh, provided design and engineering support, and the Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership provided performance testing. For more information, visit