We just realized that we have been uncharacteristically quiet about our next project. We are due to break ground in just a couple of weeks, and we have barely written a word about it. This is very unlike us, and I will begin to remedy the situation right now.
Our next project is similar in scale and ambition to the first. We will be building two homes, side-by-side, just a block and a half from the original 100k Site at the corner of Amber and Arizona (map). These two homes will share the original vision of providing healthy, energy efficient and professionally designed homes at a reasonable price. The corner home, known as the M&M House, is already under agreement, and our buyers, Mario and Mel, anxiously await its completion. The true infill home will go on the market when we break ground.
In an effort to continue improving our energy efficiency we will be pursuing the Passive House standard in this project. This is a German building standard that aims to reduce the heating and cooling load of a home by 90% (you may have read about it recently in the New York Times). We are working with PHIUS (Passive House Institute US) to finalize the design and get our Passive House certification. The process has been fairly smooth so far, and we think we have a great home in the works.
While we won’t be pursuing LEED Platinum on these two homes (one standard at a time), they will be built to the same or better standards. We will definitely return to LEED after this project, but we see the Passive House standard as a great way to improve some very specific aspects of our houses, mainly the envelope and the mechanical systems. In these two areas, Passive House far exceeds even the highest standards of LEED.
The goal, as always, is to pursue this new standard in an affordable manner. The infill home, which will act as the true case study for this project, will be a two bedroom, one bath, loft style row home (much like the 100k). The house will come in at about 1300 square feet. Our goal is to adhere to the same requirement as the 100k House project and build this home for less than $100 per square foot in hard construction costs. With any luck this will allow us to provide one of the most affordable Passive Homes ever built in the US.
We will be going into a lot more detail on this project as we go forward including talking about the new mechanical system, insulation, windows and other changes the new standard requires, but for now, I will leave you with a couple early concept sketches of the new facade.
So, what are your thoughts on the Passive House standard? Are there reasons more people aren’t pursuing this standard in the US? What do you think of the new facade concepts? What materials would you like to see forming this new facade (stucco, lap siding, metal)?
Show up in the comments.