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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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

Design development of the new Passive House prototype

This is a continuation of previous discussion of the thermal envelope design per the Passive House Planning Package.  The initial design studies were boxes, for simplicity and for efficient use of the narrow site.  But does the passive house need to look... read more

PHPP as a design tool – part 2

This is the follow-up to my first post.  In PHPP I decided my first objective would be to analyze the thermal shell: overall building orientation, window, roof, and wall R-values, surface-to-volume ratio, window areas, window shading, etc., which all feed into a... read more

Paean to Design

Most of us architects go into the field because of our love of design.  As youngsters we visited a beautiful building or city, or in my case, picked up a book on Frank Lloyd Wright (in high school), have been building with blocks/legos/couch cushions in endless... read more

Using PHPP as a design tool: p.1

Here’s a big question about architectural design: Should building form start with a sculptural idea/preconception about “style,” or should it follow from something more rigorous?  A leading question, of course.  If only we had a tool that... read more