Sachem’s Path

C&H partnered with the Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC) to create a forward thinking proposal that addressed the needs of the island in a holistic manner. The result was a development plan for 40 units of energy-efficient and solar-ready affordable housing for the people who work and live on Nantucket. C&H’s primary role was the site plan development, permitting with Natural Heritage, ZBA and the Historical Commission.

Project Details

  • Throughout the design process, C&H collaborated with the people of Nantucket in creating a new neighborhood that would serve the island from its very conception. Success was dependent on the Nantucket Historic District Commission and the Nantucket Zoning Board of Appeals approval of Sachem’s Path as a 40B project. These entities were not merely regulatory bodies, but also, as members of the island citizenry, our clients.
  • Good design requires the good communication of ideas. For this reason, we worked closely with various design committees and connected with constituents at public meetings. Community engagement extended to a careful site design, that uses smart growth principles and remains sensitive to native flora and fauna as well as pre-historic land use. Ultimately, the residents of Nantucket voted to support this venture with Community Preservation Act funding.
  • Sachem’s Path was designed to be built by the tradespeople of the island. Throughout the design process, C&H worked with local specialists & professionals, including contractor pre-construction and estimating services, a land surveyor, a botanist, structural engineers, and various design consultants.
  • For this project, C&H proposed a small neighborhood of 1, 2, and 3-bedroom homes in the vernacular style of the island. Modest and extremely energy efficient (designed to meet Energy Star Tier III), these home reflect the culture of the island’s residents and will require significantly lower capital to operate than a typical home of the same size. One of the reasons we enjoy this type of project so much is that, with details duplicated across 40 units, we can dedicate a meaningful amount of time to fine-tuning a high-performance envelope within an affordable budget.
  • The entire island of Nantucket is an historic district. Nestled into an empty spot among more established neighborhoods, the houses of Sachem’s Path are shingle-clad with gabled asphalt roofs, simple porches, and classic trim details. These compact, two-story homes will look and feel like Nantucket. The neighborhood will be made up of a handful of building types, culminating in neither a cookie cutter development nor a random collection of unrelated homes. The simple volumes will be arranged in a spectrum of orientations – some to maximize solar harvesting from their south-facing roof planes – to increase their visual interest and neighborhood’s organic feeling.
  • Like our client and collaborators, we believe that durable, low-energy homes should be available to all people. A smaller utility bill greatly benefits a homeowner who can put their energy savings to work in the rest of the family budget. The first step to designing a low-maintenance, high-performance building understanding the climate where it will operate. New England island weather has generated a vernacular form that responds intelligently to harsh winds and cold winters — compact house, minimal eaves, and sheltering roof. We took this form and added the robust envelope, designed to meet Energy Star Tier III, which offers an incentive that can offset the additional cost of a high-performance shell.
  • Mechanical systems were designed to take advantage of low heating loads and compact floor plans via simple, affordable air-sourced heat pump systems. Powered by electricity, this equipment is ready to take advantage of the solar panels which each home was designed to accept at any future time. LED bollard-style site lighting optimizes way-finding and pedestrian access while minimizing light pollution and energy consumption.

Project Team

Non-Profit Developer


Collaborating Architect

Local Structural Engineer

Structural Engineer

Civil Engineer and Natural Heritage

Landscape Architect


Local Design Consultant

Local Contracting Consultant

Energy Star/HERS Rater


Housing Assistance Corporation, Hyannis MA

C&H Architects, Amherst MA

Brown, Lindquist, Fenuccio and Raber, Yarmouthport, MA

Burnham Engineering, Nantucket MA

Ryan Hellwig, Northampton MA

The Horsley Witten Group, Sandwich MA

Coplon Associates, Bar Harbor ME

Laurentide Environmental, Nantucket MA

Milton Rowland Associates, Nantucket MA

Rob Andersen Construction, Nantucket MA

South Mountain Company, West Tisbury MA