If you could design your own home, what values would shape it? Arthur and Evie McPhee named the retirement home they recently built in Harrisonburg, Va., Shalom Cottage because the values they hoped it would embody spell out the word, peace. They wanted their home to be Prudently planned, Energy efficient, Accessible to all, Comfortable and convertible and Environmentally responsible.

On the energy front, the cottage includes a tight and well-insulated building envelope, Energy Star rated windows, doors and appliances, LED lights throughout, a hybrid, heat pump hot water heater and high efficiency zonal heating and cooling using ductless heat pumps. Solar panels provide the energy needed to make this house a zero energy building.

Wherever possible, the McPhees selected building materials that were nontoxic, low-VOC and recyclable. They also considered water conservation and construction waste.

“Our interest in thoughtfully using the earth’s resources goes back to the 1970s when our Mennonite church embarked on an early effort to build an energy efficient structure,” Art says.