Aurora Timberframes and Barns of Maine
Aurora Timberframes is an Energy Star Partner and USGBC Member.

Green Building

Eco-friendly timber frame homes

The attributes of a building system should result in a high standard of efficiency measured over its life cycle, not just a brief look at elements at a point in time. Although we usually only design and build timber frames, during our design process we suggest alternatives that you may wish to consider within your own constraints of time, money, and aesthetics.


Our early considerations relate to building size and shape and how best to place the footprint to take advantage of the terrain – the views and solar gain. Siting of the building often determines the energy input necessary to heat or cool it. In cases where view and solar orientation conflict, we can suggest innovations, alternative shapes, sizes or floor plans to optimize passive energy contributions.

Renewable resources

We offer timbers from certified, managed and/or standing dead forests, reclaimed timbers and even timbers recycled from old hangars, factories, trestles, mines and large buildings around the US and Canada. While some of these timbers may require engineering to ensure safe use, the benefit of reusing old growth woods is significant both in terms of renewable resources and unmatched appearance.


example of an SIP panel
view fact sheet

A key element to our Green building system is our use of Stress Skinned Insulated Panels (SIPs). The SIP is an insulating system that is well suited to timber framing. Panels have many advantages – they are relatively inexpensive to install, they use modern, engineered materials that are friendly to the environment yet give us excellent insulation values. When installed correctly, these panels provide an air boundary free of drafts and thermal breaks. Wiring and plumbing is a bit different from conventionally framed buildings but the process is no more difficult. We are happy to obtain and install SIPs for our clients.

Timber frame foundations

Use of Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) or even monolithic concrete slabs (sometimes called "floating slabs or Alaskan slabs" as the foundation fitted to the timber frame will be another one of the energy saving strategies we propose. ICFs are cost effective, often reducing the amount of concrete required without compromising strength and the engineered foundation will significantly reduce the amount of heat that normally escapes through the walls.

Don’t forget the foundation floor. If you plan on a basement with concrete floor there are many energy saving tricks that will save energy dollars during the life of the building.

Panels are so efficient that their pay back time is relatively short - often just five or six years. It is important to add air exchange systems to the house and "cold" roofs to take advantage of the SIP efficiencies. The ultimate payoff is healthy air inside, with lower heating and cooling costs. The correct application depends on your local climate.

Illumination without generating heat

While panels may optimize energy use in the colder months, our siting evaluations will produce suggestions to moderate the sun's effect in the summer. To eliminate daytime use of electrical lighting (and unnecessary production of heat) we might suggest low-tech light shelves, cupolas or clerestories to provide non-glare, indirect lighting. We also favor high-tech lighting where fiber optics carry light to interior rooms.

Thermal mass

In the winter, correct use of thermal mass may prevent rapid temperature swings. Incorporating effective passive energy systems is generally the least expensive way to heat or cool. Depending on your location you may still require active systems to heat and cool your environment. Smart choices of passive systems should allow use of smaller heating and air-handling systems and be less costly while resulting in much lower energy expenditures.

Active systems

We are fans of radiant floor heat, heat pumps, on-demand hot water heaters, solar collectors and geothermal heating systems. We design into our plans "energy chases" where plumbing, wiring, pipes, and tubes can be routed from one floor in the timber frame to another. One size does not fit all, but we can help you find the right vendors for these systems.

Construction techniques

One of our timber frame projects
that utilized straw bales for insulation.

We believe it is important to design, site and build our timber frame buildings in ways that are harmonious with the natural features of the geography. To the extent possible we obtain local building materials or previously used materials for our frames to minimize ecological costs of transportation. We perform most joinery with timber selected for minimal waste at the shop and at the site. Our timbers are from managed forests with sustainability and ecological responsibility our primary goals.

Our designs are suited to applications of renewable plant materials including bamboo, straw bales, and other non-toxic recyclable materials. We emphasize building in modular components, a system which SIPs lend themselves to nicely. The use of a frame and panels also reduces on site waste to minimal levels.

Contact us to get started on your kit or custom design plans now!

Our timbers are from managed forests. Sustainability and ecological responsibility our primary goals.

Timber Frame Gallery

View some of the timber frame projects we've built for others.

Timber Frame Kits & Specials

From homes to barns, we have kits that can be built quickly and affordably.

As Maine craftsmen, we are proud to use Maine's renewable resources wisely. Our timbers come from managed, sustainable forests.

-- Kris Farris
Owner, Aurora Timberframes

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