parallax background

Cold Brook Farm

A zero-energy homestead in the
hills of Hunterdon County, NJ



"We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it, we have to know it. And to know it and be willing to take care of it, we have to love it."

— Wendell Berry

About Cold Brook Farm

At Cold Brook Farm, we believe that a sustainable life is not only worth building, but is vital to reversing some of the profound damage humans have done to the environment — the consequences of which we are only just beginning to understand. Our story is not only about land stewardship or the creation of and living in a zero-energy home, but rather it is about integration of both and learning to balance our needs with the needs of the thriving ecosystem and community that surrounds us.

As the proprietors of Cold Brook Farm, we strive to be leaders in sustainable living, learning every step along the way. The design of Cold Brook Farm began in earnest in August of 2019, and each day brings with it new, unexpected challenges and many new friends.

Zero-energy home

We charged WESKetch Architecture + Construction to design our farmhouse with appearing, at first glance, like a traditional, rustic Craftsman Farmhouse peeking over the rolling hills of Hunterdon County. After all, this part of New Jersey is steeped in history, and we wanted our home to look appropriate for the local, built environment. In reality, however, Cold Brook Farm is a zero-energy house that employs state-of-the-art construction techniques in virtually all areas. Through a combination of the way the building was sited on the land, an extremely tight, well-insulated "envelope" and the use of solar power, Cold Brook Farm generates all of the energy required by our household over the course of the year — including driving up to 30,000 miles per year in electric vehicles.

Seventy-two 380-watt solar panels tied to an Enphase battery storage system, cellulose insulation and ground-source heating and cooling (often referred to as "geothermal") all play a role in the extraordinary energy efficiency of our zero-energy home. The building footprint for Cold Brook Farm was purposely designed to be small, leaving large parts of the land to remain in agriculture or their natural, beautiful state.


43

ACRES OF LAND


surround the zero-energy home known as Cold Brook Farm
10.5

FARMLAND ACRES


are dedicated to the
regenerative cultivation
of organic, heirloom grain crops
1.7

PERMACULTURE ACRES


exist for beehives, chickens, vegetables, spices, berries, fruit and nut trees
5.3

PRESERVED WETLAND ACRES


serve as a natural buffer and filtration system for runoff entering Cold Brook

25

WOODLAND ACRES


preserved in association with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation
72

380-WATT SOLAR PANELS


power Cold Brook Farm and our electric vehicles
6

GEOTHERMAL WELLS


provide a constant source of 55-degree water to three heat pumps allowing extremely energy-efficient heating and cooling
0.0

FOSSIL FUELS USED


to heat, cool or power the house or drive our cars and truck

Land stewardship

Cold Brook Farm is part of a community that dates back to the 1700s. The property was also inhabited by members of the Lenape tribe before European settlers arrived. The history of this special place reminds us daily that we are merely temporary stewards of the land, which will remain long after we are gone. When we purchased this parcel of land, we committed to enhancing its biodiversity, revitalizing the cropland soil, and creating a healthy habitat for insects, birds and other wildlife.

Our land stewardship initiatives include Permaculture in the area immediately surrounding our house, a forestry management program, regenerative organic farming on the main crop field and re-introducing native plant species while also reducing or removing invasive species.

Cold Brook Farm was established in 2020. The design and evolution of the zero-energy home is chronicled in the WESKetch Architecture + Construction blog.