A conversation on the MinnePHit website inspired me to write a quick summary of why airtight buildings are a good thing. You can find my response to the thread on the MinnePHit website. I will maintain this article on Google Knol going forward.
At TE Studio we are fortunate enough to attract some pretty incredible people. Most recently, we were commissioned by a couple from South Minneapolis to bring their mid-30s home into the 21st century of performance. A brief description of their family reads like this:
Two grown-ups, three girls, two dogs and eight chickens. A 1935 neo-Tudor in Minneapolis, MN. A passion for the planet.
You can see where we are going with this. With ground-breaking in sight, we are looking to make a Passive House retrofit. “Ze Germans” call it EnerPHit—as in energy efficient passive house retrofit.
This means some significant changes—most noticeably to the building envelope, or those bits that separate inside from out. TE Studio is providing the design for this winter coat. We are looking to sustainable materials in an effort to cut the heating demand to about 12kBTUs, or about three hairdryers going at the same time. 9-1/2″ i-Joists will be screwed to an air-tightened sheathing layer on the outside of the current shell, and dense-packed with cellulose insulation for an R-value of 44. Since we are also adding to the back of the house we decided to design a new “hat” for the home. A trussed hip-roof will provide R-77 of cellulose insulation. Even the basement will be insulated to R-values in the 30s. Combined with an airtightness goal of 1.0 ACH50 or better, this retrofit will meet the requirements set forth in the current draft of the EnerPHit standard. According to the German Passiv Haus Institute, this is the first EnerPHit project in North America.
Mechanical ventilation is a good idea for most buildings, but it is essential for any high-performance building. We designed an ERV-based whole house system with an efficiency rating of over 90%. This means that the precious heating energy will remain inside the envelope while the occupants are supplied with outside air year-round. We are able to recycle the home’s existing boiler and continue to heat the home with in-floor heat. The same boiler will also provide hot water. This project demonstrates the amazing potential of a high-efficiency design for existing homes in a cold climate through a great amount of recycling of what is existing—paired with carefully selected sustainable materials and methods for the retrofit and what is new.
The design is complementary to the building’s origins and surroundings. An open first floor plan will provide much needed space for the family, and offer a connection with the backyard. On the second floor we are adding bed rooms for the kids and an additional bath. At just over 2,000 finished square feet (counting the basement), this is no mansion for 5 people and two dogs, but with its well organized layout, it will be incredibly functional.
We are very excited about this project. The owners are offering updates on the project at http://www.minnephithouse.com
Only one question left to ask: What do the chickens think of this?
Synergy is a beacon for the 21st century renaissance of residential high-performance design. It is built on the world’s leading energy efficiency standard—Passive House. Within a building envelope that is designed to minimize maintenance cycles and age gracefully, it provides highest levels of comfort and healthy day-lit interiors. Synergy’s combination of amazing performance and built-in energy conservation make it a leapfrog performer that will save you money month after month, year after year. The extremely reduced environmental footprint and extensive use of green materials combine with highly functional floor plans and beautiful, customizable design to compliment your lifestyle.
Synergy is the essence of holistic design for sustainable homes. Welcome to Synergy. Welcome Home.
Download the brochure: Synergy Flyer Web
Talk to us about your project: email@example.com
Join us on May 7 and 8 at the State Fair Grounds for this year’s Living Green Expo. We’ll be in the Education building, in aisle A and booth 04. We are going to showcase our holistic approach to sustainable building design. Among other things, we’ll offer an insight into affordable high-peformance designs that cut 80% of operations cost and stretch maintenance cycles by a factor of 2 and more. On Saturday, I will be lecturing at Noon about Passive House. See you!
I’ll be at the U of M tomorrow, 4/19/11 from 11.15 to 12.30 at Rhapson Hall to lecture on the basics of Passive House and sustainable design.