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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

New Neighbor

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Aug 5, 2014 10:41:00 AM

THIS UNUSUAL NINE-UNIT multifamily project in San Francisco’s Mission District covers three adjacent lots, with three units on each lot, divided by a partially shared courtyard. The narrow lots conceal a surprisingly ample amount of floor space (between 1,200 square feet and 1,600 square feet per unit), and a mix of private and shared parking garages. The developer selected the site in part because of its many transit options—including walking—so automobiles play a supporting role in the
design.
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Topics: 1500 square feet or less, solar hot water, zero-VOC, water saving, multi-family

Florida First

Posted by Linda Leake

Jun 25, 2014 9:34:00 AM

DISTINCT AS THE FIRST photovoltaic (PV)-powered production home in coastal Brevard County, Florida, the St. Croix sets the pace for LifeStyle Homes’ leadership in developing net-zero housing. Completed in August 2010, this four-bedroom, three-bath revised model is the company’s first net-zero-energy residence.

LifeStyle Homes introduced its SunSmart line of energy efficient homes two years ago. The St.Croix model is packed with energy and water-saving features, including an 80-gallon solar hot water system, photovoltaic attic fans, and 15 SEER HVAC equipment, plus PV panels—bringing it to better than net-zero-energy performance.

An 8.0 kW PV system consisting of 160 flush-mounted, integrated 50-watt panels provides a torrent of solar power. The system is divided into two sections. The first 60 panels are pitched at 202 degrees and feed a 2,500-watt PV power inverter, while another 100 panels are pitched at 112 degrees with a 4,800-watt PV power inverter. A solar hot water system with a PV-powered circulating pump provides an 80-gallon hot water supply.
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Topics: net-zero energy, PV, solar hot water

Old + New

Posted by Matt Power

Apr 30, 2014 2:15:00 PM

The Adirondack-style shingled home, complete with a pond and running stream, holds its own along the estate-studded back roads of New Canaan, Conn. But it is a beauty that’s simply the veneer on a highly engineered and efficient home. 

“The couple’s goals were to build the greenest, most energy efficient house possible,” says architect Jim Edgcomb. “This site had attributes they were looking for: natural water features and open areas for photovoltaics, along with beautiful views.”

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Topics: graywater, LEED, solar, solar hot water, 2010 Green Home of the Year Awards, FSC Certified Lumber, rainwater harvesting, Recycled Products

Master Work

Posted by Matt Power

Mar 12, 2014 9:53:00 PM

GREEN HOME OF THE YEAR for 2010

Green Builder's 2010 Home of the Year is not only dazzling to behold, but it's heated and powered almost entirely by the sun.

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Topics: SIPs, passive solar, solar hot water, Energy Star, cool roof, 2010 Green Home of the Year Awards, Utah


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