Net Zero Prairie Retreat


On this beautiful wooded site with a restored prairie, the owner sought a cozy refuge with a minimal carbon footprint. This LEED Gold house was carefully sited in the midst of a restored prairie to visually connect to the pond below and trees above, with screened porches at the upper two levels. The guesthouse is for frequent family and friend visitors, but by keeping it separate, it can be run at low-power mode, while allowing the main house to be the intimate domain of the owner. High insulation levels, triple-glazed windows, energy recovery ventilation, and airtight construction keep space conditioning demands low; a heat pump water heater, condensation dryer, induction cooktop, and LED lighting allow the annual energy to be offset with a solar PV array.


“From the moment I met Tom Bassett-Dilley, I knew I had the right architect. I had just purchased 30 acres of timber and prairie in central Illinois and I was looking for a small, green, energy efficient house with a guest house that worked with the surrounding environment. Tom heard and understood me better than I could even articulate. We worked closely for over a year working out the detailed plan as true partners before we even started building. The result was remarkable. My house is highly functional and efficient; indoors seamlessly blurs with the outdoors; the architecture blends in a biophilic fashion with the environment, the red metal siding suits the agrarian environs; and not to mention, the house is stunning as is the guest house. Working with Tom and his team was effortless, edifying, fun and an experience of a lifetime. They were always very available for questions from me or the contractor and still field my questions in a timely, prompt manner. And we have Leed Gold! I truly can’t say enough positive things about Tom and the entire office. I would do it all over again given the chance.”

Owner, Net Zero Prairie Retreat



General Contractor
Mike Von Behren Builder, Inc.


Structural Engineer
Goodfriend Magruder Structure


Third-party Testing and Verification
Eco Achievers


Hausman Photography


Energy Use
2019 Actual EUI = 3.5


Fine Homebuilding, Feb/Mar 2021,
“High Design at Home in Nature”