Like many who grew up in the Roaring Fork Valley, Andrew Wickes left home to pursue his studies, a career, and an urban lifestyle in Europe. And like many natives who decided to come back, he faced the quintessential local challenge: affordable housing.
Andrew and his wife, Adriane, whom he’d met while living in Berlin, didn’t shy from this challenge. They lived with his parents, Steve and Barbara Wickes (who own Sundance Liquor & Gifts in Snowmass Village, which Andrew manages), while they weighed their options —seemingly slim given their wish to have a big garden. But when a family member suggested they put a home on the Wickes’s large lot in Meadowood, it set them on a path to build a home that suited both their desires and principles: a 1,000-square-foot, net-zero house that demonstrates how property owners and the local workforce can partner to achieve climate and housing goals simultaneously.
“If people want to make a difference, and not only help with energy efficiency but also with housing — and if they have the land — how about focusing their caretaker units to contribute to both those goals?” says Andrew.
Admittedly, Andrew and Adriane had an advantage, in that the landowners in their case are Andrew’s parents. But from start to finish, the couple planned, directed, and financed their home project. Andrew tapped a well of local resources he knows from chairing the Snowmass Village Environmental Advisory Board. Adriane, a relentless researcher who won’t take no for an answer, knew from growing up in Germany that small, sustainable spaces can be feasible and affordable. Perhaps most importantly, they put together a team that was aligned with and knowledgeable about their zero-emission goals, led by Raw Creative, a Denver architecture and design firm founded by Andrew’s childhood friend.
“They took an active role in being part of the solution as homeowners,” says Cameron Millard, the CORE energy advisor that worked with the Wickes. “The whole climate problem can feel so abstract, and we can feel powerless by the enormity of the problem. But there are so many good steps we can take at the house-to-house level that are important, meaningful and have additional benefits.”
Andrew and Adriane took the lead in planning their net-zero home — on a strict budget, no less. Here’s how they did it, and you can, too, by following CORE’s Path to Zero.