3 Simple Rules – Passive House Design – Super Green in Hudson Valley New York


Three Simple Rules

1.  Maximum heating and cooling loads allowed are 1.4 kwh/psf

2.  Source energy 11kwh/spf

3. Maximum Air Change Rate 0.6 ACH 50

Now this may all sound Chinese to you but following these rules will get you a home that is miserly on energy.  In plain English – build it tight (no leaks) build it thick (super insulate) and reduce your heating and cooling demands.

On first site of a “Passive House”, I wasn’t impressed.  Many early examples are super boxy with awkwardly thick walls and unappealing shapes.  I think some were trying to be “Colonial” designs using a new technology.  But recently I have seen a number of new Passive House homes with innovative design that works with Passive House fundamentals -usually meaning thick walls.

Designed by Dennis Wedlick  an architect I have long followed from the “Life Dream House” series through many of his Fine Home Building articles

What’s interesting to me about this house is that he keeps it simple yet uses a common vernacular.  People feel comfortable with houses they can relate to which is why we have so many people building “traditional” style homes.  Now personally – I am all about new shapes – new designs – pushing the envelope.  But I realize not everybody wants this.  I also love the beautiful Craftsmen, Spanish, Colonial, Victorian (to name a few) styles throughout our country and one of the coolest projects is to take an old building and make it perform up like a moder “race car.”

Never the less –  the “Scandinavian” feel of this stone clad home disguises a contemporary floor plan – see below.  The first floor – I would call “loft style” with its open great room plan.  The “skeleton” of the house is comprised of laminated wood “timber frames” on a slab on grade base.  Besides using a SIP (structural insulated panel) for a super insulated shell – the house also uses “passive solar” design.

Check out the energy spec’s compared to an “average” home

See More here – Hudson Passive Project http://hudsonpassiveproject.com/

In some ways simpler than LEED, Build it Green, NAHB but not simple by any means.  This German standard analyzes a home on an Excel spreadsheet that has 38 worksheets – if you don’t know Excel that means the “analysis” has 38 separate “pages” of arithmetic calculations on the performance of the home

Performance is what matters.  Tight air control and low energy usage.

I keep hearing more and more about Passive House.  Last year I toured several Passive Houses in Portland – see here http://50green.com/blog/?p=596and here http://50green.com/blog/?p=520and we have more in the “Portland Sessions” http://50green.com/Portland.htm

You can also find several articles in Fine Home Building magazine