Image Credit: Katie Palmer The insulation system for the exterior walls is designed to provide R-60 thermal resistance. This is among the first Habitat homes aiming for Passive House performance while also using modular construction, says architect and Passive House specialist J. B. Clancy, a consultant on the project. The modules were hoisted into place in September 2010. The roof was installed in September.
Early this year, the Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity chapter, based in Charlotte, Vermont, had laid out plans for a three-home development that included one house built to Passive House standards. That project, scheduled to be the first of the three completed, now has a roof on it, and the homeowner, a single mother named Katie Palmer, seems to have all she can do to contain her excitement.
“I guess I’m picturing parts of our day, in this space,” Palmer, a single mother, recently told North Country Public Radio, shortly after a crane had hoisted the building’s primary modules into place on the foundation.
One of Green Mountain Habitat’s goals in venturing into construction of high-performance homes, a Passive House consultant on the project, Peter Schneider, explained back in February, is to use this first project as a teaching tool for other Habitat chapters and other affordable-housing developments.
A Habitat prototype
It’s estimated that a house built to similar dimensions and performance standards would cost about $50,000 more than a house built to code, the NCP Radio story noted. But Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity Director David Mullen told the station that, even though such a project requires more fundraising upfront, the Passive House building standard is especially well suited to Habitat’s low-income clients because of the energy savings the performance requirements deliver down the line.
The Charlotte house, adds Passive House specialist J. B. Clancy, of Albert, Righter & Tittmann Architects, in Boston, is among the very first Habitat projects to deploy modular construction in pursuit of Passive House performance. Getting the modular system to the required airtightness, adds the contractor for the project, Chet Paso, of Hartland, Vermont, is a matter of care and persistence.
“There’s nothing that sexy about it,” he told NCP Radio. “It’s just a lot of small details you’ve got to do extremely well.”