Reprinted with permission from Construct Ireland, issue 8, volume 5.
By TomÃ¡s O’Leary
The passive house standard is now truly a global phenomenon, and this project is the first certified passive house in New York, a climate which presents the double-whammy challenge of very cold winters and scorching humid summers. Similar to a thermos flask, Dennis Wedlick’s design keeps the indoor climate cool in summer and warm in winter.
What I most like about this single family residence is its utter simplicity in form and design, which in turn helped achieve the passive house standard with graceful ease. The structure of the home consists of A-shaped laminated beams externally insulated with SIP panels. The clever detailing required to deliver this construction method resulted in what might possibly be a world-record level of airtightness, at around 0.15 air changes per hour at 50 pascals. [Ed. – Tim O’Donovan’s house in Timoleague achieved 0.11 ACH – as featured in issue two, volume five of Construct Ireland.]
Extensive south-facing glazing
The entire southern faÃ§ade is glazed but there is no risk of overheating in summer due to the deep overhang. The building is thus a manifest expression of clever solar design, an approach which has a long history in the U.S. The main living space is double height and the lofted ceilings in combination with exposed beams and fully glazed gable create a light-filled effect. External finishes predominantly include the natural materials of roof shingles and rock cladding, which help to integrate the building into its surrounds in this rural part of upstate New York.
We have recently used this building as a case study in our training courses in New York, especially in the application of the Passive House Planning Package. Architecturally, the project is the epitome of simplicity and provides an excellent reference case when faced with achieving sustainable design in both hot and cold climates.
TomÃ¡s O’Leary is a Passivhaus certifier and trainer who serves on the board of the Passive House Association of Ireland.