15-0129 v2.1/Burh Becc Farm/Residential Size Restrictions (Part III)


During our recent ILFI Design Development Guidance Review we evaluated the reasons why our current 5,015 gross square footage exceeds the 4,575 GSF maximum size restriction for a single-family residence. Our team identified four spaces in the design that we believe should be excluded from the calculation of Gross Square Footage for this L2 Transect working farmhouse project. These exclusions do not appear to detract from the intent of Imperative 16.

The original goal of our project owners was to build a modest farmhouse supporting a permaculture farm—an approach to house size that seemed quite consistent with the Human Scale intent of Imperative 16. However the 5,015 GSF tabulation suggested that the design solution had grown significantly larger than their initial modest farmhouse goal. We reanalyzed the design and were happy to find that the daily living space of the farmhouse will provide 1,825 interior square feet* (2,055 GSF) of single-floor, daily living space for the project owners, plus provide a full basement, which is a typical building practice for Michigan's climate zone. The basement will contain 810 interior SF (925 GSF) of finished space for a guest bedroom, small shop, utility/laundry room, and small bathroom. The remaining 1,250 ISF (1,435 GSF) of the basement will be unconditioned, unfinished, and non-habitated space. (*Measurements of main floor living space exclude farm business office on main floor.)

Concluding that our project did seem to support the human scale intent of Imperative 16, we then examined all spaces to identify possible areas unique to our permaculture farmhouse requirements and passive energy design that could justify exclusion of their GSF from our overall project GSF calculation. We found four building spaces that seem to qualify for this exclusion and, in aggregate, amount to 710 GSF, almost 15% of our current 5,015 GSF total. These spaces are listed below, followed by a brief explanation of the specific need for each space to support a required function for the farmhouse.

We seek approval for excluding the aggregate 710 GSF necessary for these four essential functions from the calculation of the TOTAL Gross Square Footage for our project. This will bring the LBC Gross Square Footage for our project to 4,305, well below the maximum allowance of 4,575 GSF.

Proposed Exclusions from TOTAL Gross Square Footage:

115 Temporary cold storage area for farm produce

245 Farm business office

220 Sub-basement composting pit

130 Passive convective cooling tower access catwalks

710 TOTAL EXCLUSIONS from Gross Square Footage

Cold storage area for farm produce (115 GSF). Mechanical systems will be the main function supported by the unfinished portion of the basement. However we have also designed into the unfinished basement, outside the thermal envelope, a special room for temporary cool storage of the farm’s fresh produce before it is taken to local markets.

Farm business office (245 GSF). The farm house will also have a business office dedicated exclusively to farm operations. The business office will have direct access from outside for farm workers (employees and volunteers), and be positioned next to a guest bathroom for easy access. A functional farm operations business office will be very important to the success of the Beacon Springs permaculture farming operation. (We have designed a separate study for the project owners’ personal use.)

Sub-basement composting pit (220 GSF). In addition to the main floor and basement floor, there will be a sub-basement (i.e., located below basement slab) housing a non-habitable utility pit for toilet composting equipment. Human waste composting will be an integral component of fertilizing the permaculture gardens immediately surrounding the farmhouse, and of rebuilding soil quality of fields exhausted by previous monoculture farming practices.

Platforms in cooling tower (130 GSF). In the 30’ tower of the house, two grated catwalks, accessed by ship's ladders, will provide a safe means for operating and maintaining the passive convective cooling tower. This cooling tower system is an essential element of our natural, passive ventilation strategy for the farmhouse.


The areas described above can be excluded from the project gross square footage because they either perform programmatic functions directly serving the project as a working farmhouse or are service areas for building system including passive cooling and waste treatment.

The project team must demonstrate to the auditor that these areas are serving in their intended functions as described in the post above during the projects performance period.

Post ID 2001

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