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New Energy Works Leads the Way in Sustainable Custom Design

Photography by Tim Wilkes

Some of the most beautiful timber frame homes in the country are located right here in the Finger Lakes Region. Set against the backdrop of rolling green hills, picturesque lakes, and stunning seasonal foliage, a well-designed timber frame complements the environment in just the right way. Chances are, many of the timber frames that you have seen in our region have been custom designed, crafted, and built by the experts at New Energy Works.

For over thirty years, New Energy Works has been the leading timber frame company in the Finger Lakes Region. Located in nearby Farmington, NY, with additional studio-shops in Portland & McMinnville, Oregon, New Energy Works is an innovative force in the timber framing industry nationwide. With support from their sister company, Pioneer Millworks, who manufacture some of the finest reclaimed & sustainable wood flooring, siding, and decking in the country, each of their projects focuses on utilizing natural materials and designing extremely high-performing homes and structures.

Founded by Jonathan Orpin in the 1980s, New Energy Works began as an insulation and solar retrofit company, but when an opportunity arose to put up a timber frame home, the business found its specialty. Today New Energy Works is 100% employee-owned and their expertise and service offerings have grown to include in-house architects, interior designers, and general contracting/construction services, as well as a fine woodworking division known as NEWwoodworks.

Custom Crafted - Sustainably Designed

There is no doubt that New Energy Works is an expert in their field with a long-standing and highly respected reputation, but what makes them so successful is their dedication to each client and each project. With a particular focus on designing high-performing custom homes with sustainable materials, New Energy Works is committed to working closely with clients during every phase of the design + build process.

As Eric Fraser, Chief Operating Officer at New Energy Works, put it, “I think we are at our best when we are forming deep partnerships with people and listening to them in a collaborative environment. That cadence of trust and communication is invaluable to the work we do, and you can see it reflected in our projects.”

One of the most important steps in the design process is the initial site visit. New Energy Works Lead Architect and Design Manager, Kyle Barber, RA, CPHC, says this first visit is one of his favorite phases of a project, because it is when the magic begins. “We really believe that visiting the site in-person with the client is essential. The visit can last two or three hours, sometimes more. We work with the client to begin to understand their vision,” Barber shared. “Creating that foundation of conversation and collaboration allows us to really capture their dreams and turn them into a truly custom home.”

Unlike other design + build companies, New Energy Works does not keep a large library of plans from past projects to reference for future designs. Instead, they base each design on the client’s wants, needs, and dreams. “Every project is unique,” Fraser said. “We really try to be active listeners and creative problem solvers for our clients so that they are getting exactly what they want – a custom home designed and built just for them.”

While focusing on a client’s vision is the priority for New Energy Works, they are equally dedicated to ensuring the design comes to life in a sustainable manner. Operating on a triple bottom line ethos of People, Planet, and Prosperity, the company’s mission is to use sustainably sourced materials as much as possible in every project they take on.

New Energy Works cares about where they are sourcing the raw materials needed to build a new home. Their goal with every design project is to craft heirloom quality high-performing custom homes for their clients with a low carbon footprint and minimal environmental impact.

In addition to ensuring that New Energy Works incorporates sustainably harvested timber and other materials in their projects, they also use natural sustainable materials for a building’s structure and insulation. “We use materials like wood fiber, ROCKWOOL, and hemp batt insulation for our wall and roof systems, which have fewer chemicals and tend to last longer and perform better than traditional chemical-based insulation methods,” Barber explained. “This results in homes that are more energy efficient, have a lower carbon footprint, and are more cost-effective to heat and cool throughout their lifecycle.”

Case Study: The Long-Term Lake Front Project

If you visit New Energy Works’ website, there are dozens of residential and commercial case studies or completed projects to peruse. Each project exemplifies their mastery of the craft, but one case study in particular – the Long-Term Lake Front Project – is a recently completed showcase of their design creativity, construction expertise, and related service offerings here in the Finger Lakes Region.

Located on a narrow, wedge-shaped piece of land along one of the Finger Lakes, the timber frame home’s layout had to follow suit. Narrow in shape and crafted to fit the wedged plot of land, New Energy Works collaborated with the homeowners for a year to perfect the custom design. The second year was spent in construction, utilizing Pioneer Millworks for reclaimed and sustainable flooring, paneling, and siding, and NEWwoodworks for extensive custom doors, cabinets, and countertops.

The result is simply breathtaking. With a mix of both rustic and modern features, this timber frame masterpiece is architecturally elegant yet simple in its aesthetic choices. It invites guests to appreciate the heavy timbers and woodwork while simultaneously letting the lakefront view take center stage.

“The homeowners were on board with utilizing our services as a whole from the beginning. They wanted a New Energy Works house, which meant one-off custom design, timber frame, fine woodworking, Pioneer Millworks flooring & siding, general contracting, and sustainable construction methods,” Barber explained. “The home also features our high-performance enclosure system, which is a wall and roof system that maximizes thermal envelope and airtightness, resulting in a home that requires much less energy to heat and cool than a conventionally built home and will last for generations."

Barber and the New Energy Works design team took advantage of the unique shape of the lakefront property to craft a home that draws you through its entryway and down its corridors toward the water by thoughtfully capturing as much daylight and expansive lake views as possible, while simultaneously keeping privacy in mind, thanks in large part to the strategic use of well-placed windows and an offset gable roof.

From materials selections to construction methods, the home’s modern-natural design seamlessly blends traditional craft with modern technology and gives the home an undeniable sense of connection to its surroundings.

Trending Through Time

Having been in the timber framing business for over thirty years, New Energy Works has witnessed waves of change and evolution in timber frame, architectural design, and sustainability trends. While each of their projects is unique and carries its own individual style, people lately trend toward simpler designs, an aesthetic choice New Energy Works is well versed in providing. “The simplest form is always the most beautiful and the most cost-effective,” Fraser said. “Those are the designs that span generations and become timeless.”

Ready to design the home of your dreams? Email us to start a conversation!

1180 Commercial Dr, Farmington | 585.924.3860 |

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