Energy is also saved through the double-pane Pella casement windows that seal tighter than other window styles.
And unlike most houses in the Kanawha Valley, a feature of the Arts and Crafts-style design is roof overhangs -- three-foot overhangs in the case of the Dorsey house. They help shade the house in the summer and keep water off it.
"If you keep a house dry, it will last forever," Dorsey said.
The wood-burning insert will supplement the gas furnace, and, in case of power outages, heat the house. The surrounding interior wall made of artificial stone will hold heat from the fireplace.
Dorsey hopes captured rain and spring water will be the main water source. He installed an underground collection system that holds and slowly releases rainwater into an old hand-dug well, also fed by spring water. The ground and spring water is pumped from the well into a 1,100-gallon tank in the basement.
Dorsey said the tank will probably supply water for the garden, to flush toilets, to wash clothes and to provide water during emergencies. There's city water for drinking and cooking and for backup when the well is dry. The water systems never mix.
A PEX plumbing system is used to distribute water inside the house. From a manifold in the basement, plastic tubing carries water to each individual faucet instead of a major line with feeds off of it.
The always-practical Dorsey said, "It's a cheaper way than using copper."
And the "tri-bottom line" advocate Sinclair pointed out that water is distributed more efficiently and "it's a healthier alternative to running water through PVC piping."
Dorsey is now studying a solar water heating system. He's not sure it's economical for a sole residence, but he believes the solar panels would be perfect for large consumers of hot water such as nursing homes.
What works in his house may not work elsewhere, Dorsey concedes. Still, he likes to use the house to demonstrate that there may be a better way to do things. He's a longtime member of the Home Builders Association and has hosted several open houses for that group. And he's escorted busloads of students from Carver Career Center and Ben Franklin vocational schools through the house.
Last month, the house won the West Virginia GreenWorks Placemaker award for "sense of place."
Sinclair translated: "It means the house fits into the context of its landscape and culture."
At the Morgantown building conference he was among three architects recognized individually for leadership, inspiration and stewardship in green, sustainable placemaking.
"I couldn't have done it without his input," said Dorsey, who believes architects are essential for the detailed plans that all can follow.
"Robert is the owner and builder. He made the final decision on everything. All I could do is provide recommendations," said Sinclair.
Reach Rosalie Earle at ea...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5115.