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Energy Efficient for Peace of Mind

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Sep 4, 2014 2:11:03 PM

IT'S NOT ALWAYS easy to build an affordable green home without a glaring compromise or two. But architect Eric Hughes and builder Dan Vos somehow beat the odds.

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Topics: net-zero energy, Bamboo, High-Performance Windows, LEED, SIPs, Indoor Air Quality, ICFs, 1500 square feet or less, passive solar, zero-VOC, 2011 Green Home of the Year Awards

Innovative Passive House: Uber Haus

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Aug 26, 2014 11:19:09 AM

DUBBED "PASSIVE HOUSE IN THE WOODS", this project takes energy efficiency far beyond the experience of most residential builders. It’s a bleeding edge design, a strikingly modern structure that produces 65% more electricity than it needs. It also has an interesting back story.

“The client’s wife was ill with cancer as we were planning this home,” notes architect Tim Delhey Eian.
“She passed away before construction began, and we ended up changing the design to a much more vertical plan.

“We chose ICFs deliberately, as a pretty fail-safe construction method,” he adds. “I had a good grasp of Passivhaus concepts, because I grew up in Germany and completed the training there.”

Deep Science
Although the systems in this home are familiar, this project takes them to a higher level. The ICFs, for example, extend below grade, and are augmented with a commercial-grade EIFS system that includes 11” of EPS foam above grade—making a wall 22” thick with an R-value of 70.

“We tried to get the North American branch (of Sto Corp.) to provide the details we wanted, but the deal fell through,” the architect notes. “They only offered this version of EIFS in Europe. It puts all of the water management on the exterior. They’ve now started offering it in the U.S.”

The flat roof includes 14” of polyisocyanurate foam, achieving R-95, and the windows and doors, imported from Germany, are triple-pane, low-E coated, with insulated frames. They have an installed R-value of 8. By comparison, a typical wood or vinyl-framed, dual-pane, low-E window achieves only about R-2.

The slab also sits on 12” of EPS foam (R-60), and the garage doors are insulated as well, so the overall heating demand for the home is extremely low. In fact, it has no furnace and no fireplace, despite the cold climate. The home, designed for a heating load of just 3,000 W, relies on passive solar plus a modest ground loop geothermal system, with a back up of electrical floor mats from Nuheat. A super-efficient HRV provides ventilation to the whole house, with minimal loss of BTU.

Along with the 4.5 kW PV panels, the house has a 40-sq.-ft. hot water solar collector that provides 90% of the home’s hot water demand. A small electric hot water heater provides the rest.

Ongoing Improvements
The architect notes that by monitoring the home’s performance during the first year, the team was able to identify hidden energy wasters. “For instance,” he says, “we now know that the well pump was using a lot of energy—12% of the home’s consumption for a year. That was easy to improve.

“At the same time,” he adds, “some of the appliances out-performed our original estimates, in part because they weren’t used as much as expected. But we’re now extrapolating from the lifestyle impacts.”

Too often, notes the architect, home owners look at the aspects of a home that are not important—things that “are really going to go down the drain.” Not so, with this house, he says. It’s a project that ultimately gives the owner freedom—so “he won’t owe monthly bills to anyone.”


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Topics: ICFs, solar, solar hot water, 2011 Green Home of the Year Awards, passive house

Learning Laboratory - Educational Ecohome - Bozeman, MT

Posted by Matt Power

Dec 1, 2013 12:31:00 PM

2013 Green Home of the Year Awards
Educational Ecohome - Bozeman, Mont.

This unusual project home in Montana is being monitored to test various energy-saving strategies.

DUBBED THE REHAU® Montana ecosmart house, this project earned a HERS rating of 33—an essential feature for a 6,786-square-foot floorplan hoping to be taken seriously as a “green” project. The ecohome is being evaluated and studied by the Montana State University Creative Research Lab

(MSU CRLab).

The building envelope is built of both insulated concrete forms (ICFs) and structural insulated panels

(SIPs). The house features geothermal heat exchange and radiant cooling panels—along with solar thermal. For research purposes “the house design includes overlapping, interactive technologies [to monitor and in some cases, adjust] heating and cooling, fresh air intake and ventilation, insulation and the building envelope.”

An Internet-accessible HVAC-control system prioritizes based on likely performance, “choosing the greenest available energy first.” The radiant system and solar panels also extend to snow and ice melting.

In 2014, the homeowners will move in. Data collection, comparison and analysis will continue for several months, in order to verify conclusions reached during the research phase.

 

 

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Topics: Geothermal Heating and Cooling, SIPs, ICFs, solar, 2013 Green Home of the Year Awards

The Right Conditioning

Posted by Matt Power

Dec 1, 2013 10:45:00 AM

2013 Green Home of the Year Awards
Best Behind the Walls - Chicago, IL

The Chicago area's first passive solar house eschews a traditional HVAC system.

INSTEAD OF A traditional HVAC system, two wall-mount, mini-split heat pumps—one on each floor—condition this airy modern home. The Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) mixes and distributes the air “like a Vitamix for air,” says builder Brandon Weiss.

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Topics: Super-insulated Envelope, bathroom, Indoor Air Quality, ICFs, 3500 to 4900 square feet, kitchen, Built-In Furniture, passive solar, HERS, Renewable Flooring, Low Flow Faucets, Illinois, PHIUS+ Passivhaus, natural daylighting, Passive design, 2013 Green Home of the Year Awards

Triple Feature - Best Infill Project - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Posted by Matt Power

Dec 1, 2012 3:45:00 PM

ON A QUIET street in Edmonton, Alberta, three Canadian homes are testing the limits of sustainable technology. In each case, the building envelope took precedence.

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Topics: ICFs, 1500 square feet or less, solar, passive solar, energy efficient windows, rainwater harvesting, 2012 Green Home of the Year Awards


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