Topsfield, Massachusetts — Green Home For Sale

Passive Solar-Super Insulated, No Fossil Fuel Heat Required 4+ BR's on 2+Acres 20 miles N of Boston

Listing ID: 18301

  • Green Home

Annual Property Tax $6,329
Annual Utility Cost $2,650
Home Area 2,600 sq ft
Bedrooms 4
Bathrooms 2
Total Property Area 2.6 acres
Year Built 1982

Property Description

Bottom line: We buy no oil, natural gas or electric heat. We have radiators we choose not to use. This has saved us many thousands of dollars. The utility bill includes the electric hot water and appliances. The upfront cost to super-insulate and build the HEB added about 20% to the cost of construction. We're proud to have taken the chance and are very sad to leave this great place. We're moving on to our next adventure, nearly empty nesters, having raised 2 children here it's someone else's turn to Go Green and Save Green.
In 1980 we stumbled on this crazy hilltop property in Topsfield. It was a lone lot, with no perk test or driveway in a lovely, then 20 year old, neighborhood near it's town center, Boston, Danvers and Ipswich beaches.
We researched heavily what was happening in energy efficient new construction and isolated a design out of upstate NY, Adirondack Alternate Energy. Bruce Brownell had 150 houses built with this technology and we were convinced after taking a trip to Edinburg, NY that we should do this. We worked closely with Bruce & AAE designing the living space and his Heat Energy Battery. His firm cut all timbers for the post & beam design, shipped all building materials required, including the R-36, 4" of rigid board insulation, sheetrock, shingles, windows, doors- EVERYTHING, except fixtures and finish work.

He sent 2 experienced framers and off we went. Dave, me and 1 other hired hand. We erected the frame up to the very top in 5 days.

BUT before they arrived we had built the ‘Battery’. First layer down was crushed stone for drainage. Then on top of that sits a 4 feet a sand bed (200 tons of mass) with a 12 & 16” round aluminum pipe system that became the air handling system. We tested for radon and poured a slab. Through the concrete an air shaft was built that houses a fan that runs all the time, pulling warm air from the top of the house, down through the sand and up through registers in the various floors and rooms. This shaft has 2 wood stoves connected and runs as a chimney in the house. It looks like a lovely brick chimney. We are super-insulated, all 6 sides. We call it a ‘forced warm air system”.

The house requires wood heat after back-to-back cloudy, freezing temp days. Sometimes I just cook and run the laundry and that brings enough heat into the house to satisfy for a day. The central mass is solid and the house is tight. Nothing drafty here, ever! Temp swings in winter can be 64-78. It’s quite lovely. I’ve been known to open windows a bit in winter too. 50% relative humidity and you can leave the place in mid-winter and NEVER have pipes freeze. The house will never drop below 55. In an average year we burn just 1 cord of wood,that can be harvested from the 2+ acre property.

In summer, it’s nearly the reverse; the house stays a bit cooler & less humid. The hilltop provides for natural breezes and the house ventilates from all sides and the roof. We do have occasional days when we pull out the fans but they are few and evenings usually cool the house down.

The secret is in the Forced Warm Air Energy Battery. 200 tons of mass takes on heat slowly and releases it slowly. This is the first time the house will be on the market. Usually everyone who comes in is so taken by the unique design, the amazing environment, and the views- especially in winter. Our kids have had a great time learning about the technology of the house and sharing it via science projects throughout their schooling here in the Tri-town. The site has offered a lot of privacy within a cul-de-sac neighborhood environment. We peer out over treetops, facing south towards Danvers/Beverly. The large, wrap around deck is a great place for hanging out, grilling and roasting marshmallows over a pit fire.

The house itself is 2 1/2 floors. The lowest level, ground level, has the master suite, walk-in closet, laundry area, mud room, and access to garage and to greenhouse, and another room for a study or kid’s room. The main floor is an open design kitchen, dining, living room with cathedral ceiling. There is 1 more bedroom and a full bathroom too. The Upper 1/2 level, accessed by a beautiful custom spiral stairway, has 2 large bedrooms.
The attached garage is roomy for 4 cars, lots of workshop space and spacious storage above.
Come check us out, call, email, let us know if you're interested.
For additional details on the house technology, go to

P.S. We have an in ground sprinkler, we don't use much of anymore and a Water Treatment system, to soften the well water. Appliances & people use much less soap and skin stays soft in winter.
Roof is only 8 years young.
John Deere tractor- snow blower/mower/log splitter negotiable $$

What makes your home a Green or Healthy Home?

We knew we wanted to build an energy efficient house, Low Carbon Footprint, though it wasn’t called that back then. We knew we could benefit from passive solar heating on this beautiful south facing hilltop. This house works because it's super insulated and has mass (nearly 200 tons that you never see). It’s a simple principle engineered to perfection.
The fact that this house is super-insulated does mean that we are careful about toxic & combustible substances. We have no gas appliances. We've used low VOC paints and as many natural cleaning products as we can find that do the jobs.

Neighborhood Description

Topsfield is a lovely, quiet but well connected town of 8,000. Local elementary schools feed in to a Tri-town High School with Boxford & Middleton. The town supports a small downtown, growing slowly but with care. We are surrounded by all the shopping one needs and more. Even Trader Joe's & Whole Foods.
This home sits on 2+ acres, on a south facing hilltop. It's a cul-de-sac street with 10 homes. We're 2 streets off the main street, Haverhill Road, which connects Rt 1 and Rt 95. Very handy!

Market Area

As I mentioned, Topsfield is tucked in among its neighbors who have a larger commercial presence. We have all the immediate needs available but most shopping, cultural and entertainment venues are a short drive away. We have public transportation into Boston and up to Maine, just a short drive away.
Beaches are just 10 miles away, Ipswich and Cape Ann are an amazing resource for spring-fall fun.

School District

Tri-town Regional


Home Type or Land

Single Family - Two Story

Location of Home or Land


Elevation of Home

Sea Level

Building Details

Air Quality

Agriculture in Area Yes
Industry in Area No
Air Pollution in Area No
Pesticide Free Yes
Fragrance Free Yes
Cleaned with Green Products Yes

Interior Environment

Heating System Solar - Passive
Wood Stove
Cooling System Passive Cooling
Ventilation System Part of Cooling System
Part of Heating System
Whole House Filtration HEPA filtration
Whole House Vacuum No

Energy & Water

Energy System Municipal Energy
Water System Well
Wastewater System Septic System

Construction Information

Construction Type Wood Framing: 2x4, 2x6, etc.
Wood Timber Frame
Exterior Finish Wood
Interior Finish Gypsum Board - Sheet Rock
Wood - Solid
Interior Paint Low VOC
Floor Material Tile
Wood - Laminated
Roof Material Asphalt Composition Shingle
Window Material Vinyl or Vinyl Clad
Insulation Material Fiberglass

Garage / Car Port

Garage / Carport Yes
Garage Type Attached
Number of Cars 4
Garage Area 1600 sqft