Crimson Bluffs

Modern Rustic Passive Solar Home

Where the mountains meet the river

Located on the historic Lewis and Clark Trail in beautiful Townsend, Montana, Crimson Bluffs is a smaller, energy-efficient home that ``is big on style, modern conveniences, and character.” Sensitively nestled into the hillside, this modern rustic home was specifically designed for versatile living spaces that provide 360 degree views of the nearby Missouri River and surrounding mountain ranges. At 2200 square feet with an attached garage, the upstairs of the home features an open living room, dining room, and kitchen, a bright and cheery mudroom, a powder room, pantry, and an office. The downstairs includes a combined living room and guest room, a master bedroom and bathroom, and a second guest room and bathroom. Outdoors, the residents can find sun or shade on the covered east-facing deck or in the sheltered south-facing patio.

Mindfully Modern, Artfully Rustic

Simple, thoughtful, and functional design is combined tastefully rustic detailing for a stylish twist on the traditional Montana mountain home.

Versatile spaces with panoramic views

Engaging views from all interiors, whether you’re eating at the table, gathering food in the pantry, doing dishes at the sink, or reclining on the sofa.

Building community through local craftsmanship

The owners met their neighbors by hiring community talent. Like a takes a village to raise a child, it took a village to build this home.

Energy Efficiency & Sustainability

The Crimson Bluffs home is ``a stunning example of an eco-friendly home that is thoughtfully created utilizing sustainable design principles.`` Constructed with durable, long-lasting materials, this home has a combined heating approach of passive solar design and radiant hydronic floor heating, a strategy we call “Sun Smart Heating.” Other energy efficiency strategies include passive cooling, natural day lighting, a well-sealed and highly insulated advanced building envelope, and the use of local and recycled materials. Crimson Bluffs is designed to compliment its surrounding environment, using positive conditions like solar energy and beautiful views to its advantage all while minimizing negative conditions such as cold, northerly winds and the dusty road to the west.

“Sun Smart Heating”

Passive solar design strategies use the sun’s energy to reduce the home’s heating costs. “Sun Smart Heating” combines passive solar design with radiant hydronic floor heating, delivering even & efficient warmth throughout the home, even on the coldest days, sunny or cloudy.

Blending in

The Crimson Bluffs Home was specifically designed to compliment and blend with the surrounding desert landscape. From a distance you can hardly pick the home out of the landscape as the colors, textures, and low roof profiles blend so well. This home is basically like land camouflage.

Passive Cooling

The upper and lower operable awning windows were specially designed to promote passive cooling within the home. Cool air enters from the north-facing windows and warm air exits to the south. In addition, the specifically designed roof overhangs cut off unwanted direct sunlight from entering the home in the summer. The homeowners report that the interiors are staying at a comfortable temperature during the hot summer months without running any electric fans or venting devices.

Natural Lighting

There are many different natural light sharing strategies throughout the home that reduce the need to run energy consumptive light bulbs during the day. The custom polycarbonate awning over the main entry protects the threshold, yet allows filtered light to illuminate the area, creating a bright and welcoming entry. This sunlight then enters through the glass door and is shared through glass door of the office.

Renewable heating on bitter cold days

On December 17th, 2017, much of Montana was experiencing bitter cold temperatures. While most Montanans were running their heat steadily on that incredibly cold, yet sunny day, the Crimson Bluffs homeowner reported that the heat was not running in her home. This is a great testament to the effectiveness of passive solar heating.

Sustainable Materials

Most of the exterior and interior materials were carefully selected to be either recycled, recyclable, sustainable, or long-lasting.

Re-purposed materials

The custom welded ties for securing the railing to the stairs were fabricated by a local high school student as part of a shop class assignment. The inclusion of this student into the construction team really illustrates how the Crimson Bluffs Home was a community project. The steel was leftover from the custom exterior awnings, re-purposing this material rather than wasting it.

Recycled concrete driveway

The sustainable crushed recycled concrete driveway material compliments the other green features of this home. A note from the homeowner: “It was crushed at Capitol Concrete in Helena… Big haulers can bring any demolished concrete free of metal to them and they crush during the winter to keep a few employees working. Win win situation as they are not paying to dump it in a landfill.”

Construction Process

The quality local construction talent in conjunction with a buildable design made Crimson Bluffs a reality. Visit our blog to learn more about the construction process.


``Mark’s computerized drawings are so life like that it is almost like looking at a photo of the constructed house.`` -Katie, Crimson Bluffs Homeowner

A word from the homeowner

``We have had such a good experience working with Mark and Emily at Greenovision. It is not easy to find an architect and build a home from out of state but after meeting with Mark we felt he understood what we were looking for. We needed to stay within a budget while trying to obtain an energy efficient, beautiful low maintenance home. We also knew we wanted to take full advantage of the open sky and sunshine in Montana and incorporate passive solar heating and beautiful views. We essentially did most of the initial planning and decision making via email. Mark’s computerized drawings are so life like that it is almost like looking at a photo of the constructed house. The roof design of the house is amazing! During the hot sunny summer months the sun barely comes in the large south facing windows. Today as I write this it is negative 17 degrees outside. The sun is hitting the tile floor and soaking up the heat! This augments our propane fueled radiant floor heat system. We couldn’t be more happy with the way our house functions for us and the simple beauty of its design.`` -Katie, Crimson Bluffs Homeowner

Take a Video Tour

Designer – Greenovision    General Contractors – The Dana Family     Surveyor – Caddis Engineering    Finish Carpentry & Built-ins – Cadillac Custom Cabinets     Interior Staircase – Mark’s Lumber