Image Credit: Sarah Evans and Stuart Rue The home uses a Power-Pipe drain water heat-recovery device, made by RenewAbility Energy Inc. The owners of this Passivhaus building, Sarah Evans and Stuart Rue, hired people with green home building experience to see the project through: local builder Bilyeu Homes Inc. and Salem-based architect Nathan Good. In addition to Passivhaus certification, the performance of the Evans-Rue house also earned it a Platinum certification from EarthAdvantage, a nonprofit green building program based in Portland, Oregon. The house that formerly occupied the lot where the Evans-Rue house now stands was built about a century ago, according to Sarah Evans, and was demolished about 12 years ago.
Short of training as a Passivhaus consultant, one way to immerse yourself in Passivhaus technology and practice is to have a home built to the standard and then live in it. That’s what Sarah Evans and her husband, Stuart Rue, have done with their two-story project in Salem, Oregon, which broke ground in August 2009 and earned certification by Passive House Institute U.S. last month.
Planted on a roomy corner lot, the three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath house has about 1,880 sq. ft. of space divided almost evenly between the two floors. Evans and Rue hired local, green-minded experts to help them shape their vision for the house and get it in the ground: builder Bilyeu Homes Inc. and architect Nathan Good, both based in Salem. And like many other homeowners, designers, and builders who venture into the still-rarefied realm of Passive House construction, the couple blogged about the process and posted lots of photos.
The Evans-Rue house features advanced framed double-stud walls (just over a foot thick) and exceptional airtightness, having achieved .20 ACH at 50 Pascals in its last blower-door test. It also features exterior detailing that honors the traditional look of much older homes in the Northwest, including the 100-year-old house that, until about 12 years ago, had occupied the Evans-Rue lot. Evans credits Good with forging a compatible design.
“We wanted our house to fit in with the surrounding neighborhood and Nathan really made that happen,” she told Earth Advantage, a nonprofit green building and rating program based in Portland, Oregon, that certified the house with a Platinum rating, its highest, based on the building’s high level of energy efficiency.
“We have received two power bills constituting a little less than two months of electricity service at the new house,” Rue wrote on July 16. “We have averaged a tiny bit less than 14 kW per day. By way of comparison, the average American house uses about 30 kWh per day, according to the Department of Energy. Except for a few days last week, the weather since we’ve moved into the house has been very temperate, so we weren’t expecting a huge bill. Still, it’s nice to see such a low bill, especially considering that electricity is our only energy source.”
For more information on the house, see Net Zero Energy Homes Case Study 2: Rue Evans Passive House.