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Opaluch - south exterior

A Passive Solar Home from the 1980s

Feb 25, 2014 | Boulder, Colorado

Back in the early 1980s, I built a 1,480-square-foot passive solar home in Boulder, Colorado. There have been substantial improvements in active solar equipment since then. But today’s passive solar design principles are quite similar to the principles preached in the early 1980s. Solar energy provides almost all the winter heating and hot water for this home. The cost savings I achieved by eliminating a central heating system were invested in thermal massHeavy, high-heat-capacity material that can absorb and store a significant amount of heat; used in passive solar heating to keep the house warm at night. , additional insulation, and better glazingWhen referring to windows or doors, the transparent or translucent layer that transmits light. High-performance glazing may include multiple layers of glass or plastic, low-e coatings, and low-conductivity gas fill., so no additional construction costs were incurred compared to conventional construction.

Bado - South elevation - cropped.jpg

A Net-Zero Home in Massachusetts

Dec 17, 2013 | Shelburne, Massachusetts

Before we met, my clients had spent considerable time researching how to build a net-zero home. They read product literature, studied the economics, understood the benefits, and had a pretty intelligent understanding of construction methods and materials. This body of knowledge became the starting point for our discussions and direction.

Dan Ernst - Thaxton house - exterior south elevation

Passivhaus on a Budget

Feb 8, 2013 | Climate Zone 4A — Thaxton, Virginia

When the time came for Jason and Stephanie Specht to find a builder, they started out with high ideals. They wanted a builder who wouldn’t skimp on the quality of construction and who wouldn't charge an exorbitant fee.

Since this was their first time building, there were a lot of unknowns and a lot of questions: As clients, would they be able to customize plans? Select materials and finishes? Could they realize their budgetary goals? Did the builder have a good reputation? Would the house be energy efficient?

Most of all, they were looking for a builder they could trust.

Eric Thomas house south elevation

A Net-Zero-Energy House for $125 a Square Foot

Jan 7, 2013 | Seattle, Washington

By Eric Thomas
We were attracted to an empty south-facing lot, one of the last undeveloped parcels in our neighborhood. Were we naïve to think we could make our dream of an affordable green home a reality?

“Mom and Dad must have paid for that one,” one of our elderly neighbors told me when I met him for the first time.

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