- High Performance
- Architectural Design
MINIMALIST MODERN PASSIVE HOME
With much appreciation, we were introduced to a couple looking to build their dream ‘passive’ home that blended their love for the minimalist modern aesthetic with their primary performance goal of overall fossil fuel independence. A passive home by definition is a rigorous, voluntary standard for energy efficiency in a building, which reduces the home’s ecological footprint. As is often the case, passive homes are quite expensive, so the bold challenge was clear – deliver a beautiful modern masterpiece that not only performed, but also could stay within budget. The result is a stunning, comfortable, ultra-low resource consuming home that requires very little energy to heat, cool, and operate throughout the four seasons.
Starting in the ground, a high-performance ICF (Insulated Concrete Form) foundation was installed. From there, all finished floors were polished concrete slabs with 8” of rigid EPS foam installed beneath to help ensure little to no heat loss through the concrete floors. Adding to the complexity, in areas where there is a wood substructure (with living space below) traditional concrete would eventually crack. After much investigation and research, we executed an intensive 3-step process colored, epoxy concrete floor to effectively deliver a more durable and beautiful finished floor.
To maximize the R-value of the walls, we installed a 16.5” wall system. Through the combination of vertically installed I-joists, 2x4s, wall sheathing, vapor retarders, air barriers, bulk water retarding barriers, and expensive tapes, we were able to construct the armature that set up the home for an extensive insulation package. The roof system also used I-joists, roof sheathing and vapor and air barriers. We used a combination of dense packed cellulose insulation, rock wool insulation, and spray foam to insulate the wall cavities, and in the roof areas we installed upwards of 7” of rigid foam on top of the roof sheathing and sprayed in 5” of closed cell insulation on the underside of the roof. With this continuous thermal envelope along with our effectively installed vapor, bulk water and air barriers, along with ultra high-performance triple-pane windows, a robust footing was established for the integration of the remaining mechanical/electrical systems and finish products throughout the home.
The home has an energy-efficient LED lighting package; and the domestic hot water is heated by a European split system heat pump water heater. Mechanically, the whole home is heated and cooled by two correctly-sized 1-ton ultra-efficient ductless mini-splits; and the air in the home is circulated and exchanged to the outside through the use of a high-performance ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator).
Outside, the MEG panel commercial-grade exterior veneer, manufactured in Germany, presented a truly unique effort with its arduous distribution chain, 6-month lead time, and installation requirements where each panel was individually sized and cut off-site to within a ½” tolerance.
In closing, while we had utilized many of these processes on other homes that we have built, this was the first home to incorporate all of these best practices together in one composition. Working with their accomplished architect, Richard Pedranti, we are grateful for the opportunity to craft this truly unique, high-performance passive home for our wonderful clients – a minimalist modern masterpiece that blends their intriguing design sensibilities with passive performance principles…and overall, a treasured haven to enjoy for many years to come!