Fontana Dam, North Carolina Love Shack Goes Green

Against the backdrop of North Carolina’s Lake Fontana, Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountains. I mean perched on a steep hillside. For there, you will find the “Love Shack.”

Located in Fontana Dam, North Carolina. For the three-story modern home. One that features two bedrooms, three bathrooms and a wraparound porch. Also a private balcony, as well as an open room. This room is one that incorporates the kitchen, dining area, living area and attached garage.

The “Love Shack,” is far from what anyone would consider a ‘shack.’ In fact, it is nearly impossible not to find something to fall in love with about this home. That’s between the breathtaking Appalachian surroundings. Also the contemporary architectural design of the home. One with an industrial flair to the exterior. Also and the clean open floor layout of the interior. One decorated with midcentury modern furnishings.

The Love Shack

The home is a monument of its owners. For they are Ken and Dr. Cindy LaRoe. One whose love of the planet inspired an eco-friendly home design that creates as much energy as it uses. One which is known as achieving ‘Net-Zero’ energy and water consumption. To meet this standard, the house incorporates many things. For example thermal windows and water collection system. Also photovoltaic panels and other energy-efficient features.

It also incorporates several design elements personal to the couple. For that’s such as the home’s heart pine cabinets. Those which were made from trees salvaged from their hometown in Florida. All after being killed by pine borer beetles.


Ken and Cindy are passionate about clean energy. Thereby believing it is paramount to protect our air, water and land. All from pollution to save the future of our shared planet and humanity as we know it. The couple’s eco-friendly choices at the Love Shack also reflect Ken’s business approach. One that embodied through his company, First GREEN Bank. Ken founded the bank in 2009. One with a mission to promote business that is financially, environmentally and socially responsible. Since then, the bank continues to prioritize eco-friendly practices. That’s by having all of its buildings built or “GREENovated”. That’s to meet the highest levels of sustainability.

The company, which has loaned more than $500 million to the communities it serves. For it is known for its progressive initiatives. For that’s such as offering discounts on solar energy loans. Also, providing customers with electric car charging stations.

SIZE (sq. ft.): 1800 sq. ft. 

NO. OF BEDROOMS: 2

NO. OF BATHROOMS: 3 

YEAR COMPLETED (include original for remodels): 2015 

ARCHITECT OR DESIGNER: Phil Kean 

BUILDER: Way Cool Homes

Overall, the “Love Shack” is a special and meaningful place for Ken and Cindy, where visitors can decompress, appreciate nature and take part in a movement toward a sustainable future.

PROJECT GOALS

The project entailed a great deal of planning by the homeowners, Ken and Dr. Cindy LaRoe, and required collaboration with a range of design, construction and environmental specialists.


The main, functional goal was to design a sustainable, low maintenance structure that would disrupt as little of the surrounding environment as possible, in order to preserve the area’s natural elements and to reduce the couple’s carbon footprint. This goal was greatly surpassed, having created a Net-Zero residence, meaning it produces as much energy and water as it consumes, which is LEED Platinum certified, one of the highest and most reputable certifications for energy efficiency. Achieving LEED Platinum certification is challenging and is based on strict requirements across nine aspects of green buildings, including: location and transportation; sustainable sites; water efficiency; energy and atmosphere; materials and resources; indoor environmental quality; and innovation. Overall, the home is sustainable and low maintenance.

In addition to the goal of sustainability, the home exceeded the couple’s personal tastes in design and aesthetics, including a breathtaking view. Taking inspiration from the surrounding woodlands, the finalized three-story structure takes up only six hundred square feet of land. As an artist, Cindy made the home her canvas, choosing the striking red that breaks up the powder-coated steel panels of the exterior. The steel panels, which are more commonly used in commercial architecture than residential settings of a home, add an industrial touch. Uniquely, the house complements or contrasts its surroundings during different parts of the year — the home’s deep oranges and reds blend in during fall and contrast the white of winter.


ENERGY EFFICIENCY or sustainable features

Nearly the entire home is energy efficient and sustainable by conscious design. For it has implemented as many locally sourced material and appliances as possible.

The home is fully illuminated by LED lights.

For it uses the highest SEER HVAC air conditioning system available.

I mean for energy-efficient heating and cooling of the home. Also spray foam. That’s a level called R-50 ceilings. All for better insulation. As well as it implements low-flow or dual-flush toilets. That’s totally to reduce water usage.

Furthermore, all of the wood used in the home is reclaimed. I heard or it was sustainably harvested. For example, the countertops are made from recycled bowling alley lanes. In addition, the home’s floors are two different species of tree, salvaged from a site. One that had been cleared for real estate development. In addition to the home’s built-in cistern for collecting water. As well as the roof’s photovoltaic solar panels. Finally, the home’s cabinets are salvaged heart pine and oak trees.

Additionally, the LaRoes sourced all of the home’s energy-efficient doors and windows himself. The home uses Zola European ultra-energy efficient Thermo Clad windows and doors. Those which offer superior thermal performance. Also airtightness and are regularly used in Passive House construction.

Passive House is an emerging standard. One that was first developed in German. For it requires little or no energy for its heating and cooling. High performance windows are an essential component of this building approach. One which also relies on thick walls and insulation. Furthermore airtight construction and a heat recovery ventilation system. This helps to reduce energy consumption, bills and carbon footprint.

Notable details

In the 1980’s, the original home on the site burned down. Working with architect Phil Kean, Ken and Cindy LaRoe designed a home. One that would fit into the original house’s footprint. All on a tight, flat spot at the edge of the crest of a ridge. One that drops off at about a 60-degree slope.

For the vision of the project was to build a home with modern construction and minimal environmental impact. As well as to make the most of the sloping hill side and surrounding nature views. The couple consulted with renowned local tree specialists. All in order to protect and preserve the woodland. That which includes oak, sycamore, basswood and poplar trees, during construction.

I mean they even spent their own time salvaging reclaimed and locally sourced materials. In addition and it helped. Especially in the construction and remodeling of the home.

Additionally, the vertical approach is their mantra to the home’s design. One which involved constructing up rather than out. For it reduces the structure’s impact on the surrounding forest. All the while still providing the homeowners with the luxury house. Finally and open living space. One they had envisioned for their mountaintop retreat.

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