Leaders in the fields of green architecture and sustainable design, we share our thoughts and experiences on current projects and our philosophies on design and performance.

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Exterior finishes

The driveway has been poured (though it’s under blankets due to the cool weather), the siding is up, and the gabions are installed: almost there! Entry view: the door is unveiled at last! Feels good as an architect to see the building appearing as drawn and... read more

Pictures, Sept. 26

Here are some updated pictures I took for my presentation at the Passive House Conference last weekend in Denver.  More soon! front–brick just installed living/dining space looking east to stair from stair to west (back of house) exterior rear of house You... read more

Blower door did not suck

There are too many bad jokes to be made about blower doors…I couldn’t resist. This is just a very quick post to announce the our PHIUS+ rater, Andy Scott of Energistics, came to the site this week and performed the preliminary blower door test.  As... read more

Heating and cooling the Passive House

One of the main qualities of a Passive House building is that the mechanical loads are so reduced that you only need a tiny system for heating and cooling.  Even for this relatively big house, there is no conventional furnace/AC small enough that it... read more

Ventilation for the Passive House

One of the qualities of a Passive House is that the construction is nearly airtight., so to allow the house to “breathe” we use an energy-recovery-ventilator (or heat-recovery ventilator).  Yes, houses need to “breathe”, or more... read more

Passive House window installation in ICF

We learned a lot about windows…hence this post to pass it on.First, we priced a number of European windows that would work for our demands: we needed glass at about U=.09, frames at about U=.15, solar heat gain coefficient of .5, and insulating spacers.  We... read more

Interior renderings

Here is some eye candy. It’s fun to think of these while standing in the house now (with 10 tradesmen working hard all around).  You’ll see a number of light coves–we’re using T5 fluorescent strip lights, which are extremely efficient;... read more

Roof is raised

Biltmore continues to move at their good and steady pace.  The roof went on a few weeks ago, followed quickly by interior framing.  But first, the ceiling air barrier was installed.  Every airtight house (and Passive Houses are the ultimate airtight... read more

Construction moving apace

Biltmore is cruising on the ICFs, floor framing, and had a concrete pour last week–basement and garage slabs are in! Front of house, ICFs to mid-2nd floor level Basement–plenty of light! Note Stegowrap coming up walls Back of house from... read more

ICFs going up

Biltmore Insulated Concrete is erecting the Logix ICF walls and installing bucks for window openings: view from street airtightness tape at buck corners The first concrete pour is scheduled for... read more

Professional photos of 1122 Clinton

Eric Hausman photographed 4 projects for me, including 1122 Clinton.  He’s great to work with, and I’m very happy with what he was able to do for me– fun to work with, efficient, and detail oriented.  Here are some low-res images: front... read more

Construction begins

May 18, 2012 Eric Barton of Biltmore Insulated Concrete and Brandon Weiss of Weiss Building and Development are the builders, and top-notch builders they are–both Graduate Master Builders, Brandon is BPI certified, Eric is a Certified Passive House... read more

Why certification? What PHIUS+ is doing for us

The River Forest house has been submitted to PHIUS for the PHIUS+ certification process, and I am occasionally asked what the incentive is–what are we getting for the $2700-ish in fees?  The answer is twofold: 1.) expert review of the design; and 2.)... read more

New project: ICF Passive House in River Forest

I’m excited to share that I’m designing a new house (planned to be certified by PHIUS) for a wonderful young family, with a great team of builders.  The owners asked for a home that would not only be super-energy-efficient, but extremely strong as... read more

Ultra-efficient retrofits: the next frontier

I used to commute downtown to work, and would get on the El next to a freight line.  On that line every morning ran trains with car after coal car full of coal.  They were probably heading for the State Line Generation Plant, built in the ’20’s... read more

Rendering for visulaization

I’ve been using the Podium rendering engine inside SketchUp lately for a few projects in Evanston: This new kitchen in a Prairie Style house, and… …this view showing a mudroom tile/railing/built-in transition.  While both of these could get... read more

First built example: functional PH, almost to certification

We have just about completed construction on a house at 1122 Clinton Ave. in Oak Park, an ultra-efficient house designed using PHPP.  Marko Spiegel of CTI and OneWatt Construction was the energy consultant and partner with Allen Drewes in the construction... read more

The balancing act

Since completing the first half of Consultant Training, I worked on 3 new prototypes in an attempt to understand how to optimize Passive House design on what I now realize is a most challenging building type and site.  First, the issue of compactness: a 20′... read more

PHPP: the real deal

I’m in Urbana at the Passive House Consultant Training course, and am quickly realizing that my early attempts at PHPP calculations were just scratching the surface.  Also a case of knowing “just enough to be dangerous.”   To make the... read more