Passive Acceptance: 7 Energy-Efficient Homes

written by:
January 20, 2014
Passive heating and cooling are both cost-efficient measures that ease a new residence's burden on the earth. From super-green homes to certified Passive Houses, here are six great examples of the genre.
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  South-facing windows, bedrooms situated at each end of a simple gabled structure, and a sleeping loft maximize both energy efficiency and an open, airy feeling in this Rhode Island vacation home by ZeroEnergy Design. Photo by Greg Premru.  Courtesy of: Greg Premru

    South-facing windows, bedrooms situated at each end of a simple gabled structure, and a sleeping loft maximize both energy efficiency and an open, airy feeling in this Rhode Island vacation home by ZeroEnergy Design. Photo by Greg Premru.

    Courtesy of: Greg Premru

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  Among the first Passive Houses in France, this bamboo-clad farmhouse by the Parisian firm Karawitz Architecture only uses a tenth of the energy a conventionally constructed home does. Photo by Nicholas Calcott.  Courtesy of: © 2012 Nicholas Calcott

    Among the first Passive Houses in France, this bamboo-clad farmhouse by the Parisian firm Karawitz Architecture only uses a tenth of the energy a conventionally constructed home does. Photo by Nicholas Calcott.

    Courtesy of: © 2012 Nicholas Calcott

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  This house in Chile floats atop a 180-foot cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a 90-minute drive from Santiago and nearly as far from municipal utilities. The residents equipped the house with solar panels, a wind turbine, and a gravity-fed well and employed passive heating and cooling strategies.   Photo by: Cristóbal Palma

    This house in Chile floats atop a 180-foot cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a 90-minute drive from Santiago and nearly as far from municipal utilities. The residents equipped the house with solar panels, a wind turbine, and a gravity-fed well and employed passive heating and cooling strategies. 

    Photo by: Cristóbal Palma

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  For this rural Ontario home, the owner focused more on natural forces than high-tech gizmos: "To to me there are more interesting things in passive design that rely on the available sun and wind." A 1.4-kW solar array by Sharp and propane-powered in-floor radiant heating from Radiantec obviate any need to connect to municipal power. Photo by Derek Shapton.  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton

    For this rural Ontario home, the owner focused more on natural forces than high-tech gizmos: "To to me there are more interesting things in passive design that rely on the available sun and wind." A 1.4-kW solar array by Sharp and propane-powered in-floor radiant heating from Radiantec obviate any need to connect to municipal power. Photo by Derek Shapton.

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

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  Passive solar design, which promotes passive means of generating and retaining warmth over active—and expensive—systems, is central to R-House’s success. ARO designed it so that solar gain—chiefly from rear-facing windows that cascade from roofline to threshold on the building’s south side—and heat generated by people and electrical equipment warm the house.  Photo by: Richard BarnesCourtesy of: © Richard Barnes

    Passive solar design, which promotes passive means of generating and retaining warmth over active—and expensive—systems, is central to R-House’s success. ARO designed it so that solar gain—chiefly from rear-facing windows that cascade from roofline to threshold on the building’s south side—and heat generated by people and electrical equipment warm the house.

    Photo by: Richard Barnes

    Courtesy of: © Richard Barnes

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  Unlike its next-door neighbor, R-House, TED wasn’t originally planned to meet the exacting Passive House standard. The building’s green bona fides came largely from four roof-mounted thermal solar panels and a 120-gallon water storage tank that architect Tim McDonald attests would have met nearly all of the home’s heat and hot-water needs. After submitting the proposal, though, he completed a course in the Passive House standard. Inspired, McDonald modified the original approach, ditching the tank and thermal panels in favor of a highly insulated, airtight envelope—the equivalent, he says, of shielding the house from the harsh Syracuse winter with a fur coat instead of a windbreaker.  Courtesy of: © Richard Barnes

    Unlike its next-door neighbor, R-House, TED wasn’t originally planned to meet the exacting Passive House standard. The building’s green bona fides came largely from four roof-mounted thermal solar panels and a 120-gallon water storage tank that architect Tim McDonald attests would have met nearly all of the home’s heat and hot-water needs. After submitting the proposal, though, he completed a course in the Passive House standard. Inspired, McDonald modified the original approach, ditching the tank and thermal panels in favor of a highly insulated, airtight envelope—the equivalent, he says, of shielding the house from the harsh Syracuse winter with a fur coat instead of a windbreaker.

    Courtesy of: © Richard Barnes

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  If you ask Thomas Robertson, the difference between actively green houses and his passively sustainable Courtyard House is the difference between “a solar-powered yacht and a sailboat.

    If you ask Thomas Robertson, the difference between actively green houses and his passively sustainable Courtyard House is the difference between “a solar-powered yacht and a sailboat.

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