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Bite the Frost Efficient Building Design Updates

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Bite the Frost Efficient Building Design Updates.



George Harvey

Bite the Frost (BTF) is a small architectural and mechanical HVAC design firm that specializes in space, energy, and resource-efficient homes. It was the subject of an earlier Green Energy Times article, “Bite the Frost and Go for Net-Zero Energy House Plans,” in August, 2021.

BTF is a small company, but in the world of architectural and mechanical HVAC design, it has a presence. BTF has become known by residential contractors and builders across the country for its ability to combine both architectural and mechanical HVAC designs into one seamless package.

Founder Gwendolen St. Sauveur gave us some thoughts about how the company fared in 2023. This has been a remarkable year for BTF, leaving it with a sense of accomplishment. Working with innovation and sustainability is a delicate balancing act, and this act has required constant attention to trends in today’s residential architecture.

BTF was awarded the Women Owned Sustainability Grant from WomensNet. This was a testament to BTF’s dedication to its mission. The grant empowers women entrepreneurs, and it was awarded based on BTF’s commitment to sustainability, with efforts to make a positive impact in the industry.

The year, BTF achieved compliance with California Title 24 design standards. This means the company can offer stock plans that are ready for construction in California. This required adaptability to meet the varied needs of clients. One of BTFs many custom designs, currently being built in the high mountains of California, is expected to be added to their Stock Plan collection soon. BTF is also getting set to introduce a carriage house/apartment over a garage plan, further expanding its offerings.

Also in 2023, BTF became a DOE Zero Energy Ready Home partner, a significant milestone. This required the company to surpass industry benchmarks and emphasizes its environmentally conscious building practices. Coupled with the Section 45L Tax Credit for Energy Efficient New Homes, it highlights BTF’s work to make sustainable living economically viable.

BTF’s belief in collaborative partnerships led it into working with Habitat for Humanity, showing how working together can create lasting, positive change. Breaking ground on BTF’s first Habitat Home illustrates a commitment to fast, easy, and cost-effective net zero designs. This initiative goes beyond building homes; it’s about building hope and contributing to our communities.

Community outreach is part of BTF’s ethos, going beyond construction to contribute to the well-being of the communities where operates. BTF presented an educational workshop at Efficiency Vermont’s Better Buildings by Design conference, which focused on teaching manual J energy models to builders and architects. BTF plans build on this to extend its educational initiatives with conference trainings across New England in 2024.

BTF now offers on-site septic wastewater design services for Vermont. Also, it offers RESNET HERS rating services, including EnergyStar single-family and multifamily certifications, as well as blower door tests. These expansions allow BTF to provide a broad suite of services for its clients in Vermont and the rest of New England.

The world is increasingly adopting net-zero construction, and BTF hopes to lead that movement. It may be the first firm in the U.S. to offer true stock net zero home designs. This Integrated Stock Net Zero approach sets BTF apart. Each plan has a pre-determined North and includes HVAC systems, PV solar arrays, and net-zero elements in its architectural drawings. BTF can design for fossil fuel-free HVAC systems, ensuring carbon-free living.

Echoing the charm of historical classics like capes and colonials, most BTF plans adapt traditional aesthetics for sustainability. This is shown in its Net Zero Plan Book. Designed for flexibility and ease of construction, BTF plans cater to a wide range of sites across 35 states, from North Carolina to Alaska. The plans use common building materials and construction methods, allowing contractors the flexibility to work with preferred materials while meeting design R-values. BTF homes under construction nationwide are a mix of our designed stock homes with client-specific alterations.

BTF is proud to play any role in families’ transitions to more sustainable and cost-effective lifestyles. Sustainable homes are not just structures; they are the foundations for sustainable living. Homes are where we grow, love, relax, and make the decisions that shape our lives. BTF believes they are our greatest assets.

The BTF website is


This custom design is under construction, being built in the high mountains of California. BTF intends to add this design to its stock plan collection in the coming months. (Courtesy of BTF)

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