Guest Blogs

Looking Through Windows — Part 3

Posted on September 4, 2012 by Roger Normand

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the seventh article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

Woe are we with windows!

We started seriously exploring window options in June. Two months later, we are STILL hung-up on windows.

Most people who build new homes go look at window samples in few building supply stores, check the features, open and close the display units, get a price, and quickly decide, “Let’s go with this one.”

Basement Insulation — Part 2

Posted on September 3, 2012 by Marc Rosenbaum

In Part 1 of this blog series, I mentioned that I had to move a number of infrastructure items away from the concrete walls so I could have an unbroken insulation installation. In retrospect, it was a good idea to move them, and the time it took was at least partially compensated for by not needing to take time to fit the foam around the obstacles.

They were:

Basement Insulation — Part 1

Posted on August 29, 2012 by Marc Rosenbaum

A common truism (that isn't) is “heat rises.” Actually, what rises is air that is warmer than the surrounding air. Anyone who has lived with a wood stove knows this — it's a lot hotter at the ceiling in the room with the stove than it is at the floor. But heat flows from hot to cold, so it readily goes from our houses down into whatever connection they have with the ground, because the ground is cooler than the temperature most of us like our homes to be at.

Looking Through Windows — Part 2

Posted on August 28, 2012 by Roger Normand

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the sixth article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

Looking Through Windows — Part 1

Posted on August 21, 2012 by Roger Normand

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the fifth article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

When we first began looking at windows for our Passivhaus project, we started with a list of 15 window manufacturers. We whittled the list down to two: Schüco, which on paper looked like the best European-style window, and Pella, the best North American style window.

Plans and Pricing for Our House in Maine

Posted on August 13, 2012 by Roger Normand

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the fourth article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

So far, we have been guesstimating how much this project will cost. Yes, we could use estimates based on cost per square foot, but there are are several design factors that influence that equation.

Selecting a General Contractor

Posted on August 7, 2012 by Roger Normand

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the third article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

What’s the best way to pick a residential general contractor (GC)? There are many books written on the subject. I want to focus this blog on one specific aspect: the point in time that the GC becomes a member of the team along with the architect and the homeowner.

Goodbye Radiant Floor

Posted on July 31, 2012 by Roger Normand

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. in Maine. This is the second article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

Goodbye radiant floor. Though we never really knew you, we are sad to see you go away.

Kicking the Tires on a Passivhaus Project

Posted on July 23, 2012 by Roger Normand

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. in Maine. Their goals are modest: “Passivhaus, LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. Platinum, net zeroProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. Calculating net-zero energy can be difficult, particularly in grid-tied renewable energy systems, because of transmission losses in power lines and other considerations., universal access, and sustainable.” This is the first article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

Calculating the Embodied Energy Payback for Passivhaus Buildings

Posted on July 19, 2012 by mike eliason

A common PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. topic that rears its head every now and again is the embodied energy of construction. While this can be an important issue, we generally feel it’s a moot point for Passivhaus projects – especially the ones we design (owing to better optimized assemblies and less insulation!).

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