Super-Insulated Houses That Stand Up to Winter's Chill

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By following Passive House guidelines, architects can create houses keep in the heat without major utility bills.

Modern home with Exterior, House, Flat RoofLine, and Wood Siding Material. While the home’s simple, boxy forms starkly contrast with surrounding residences, its compact shape and modest scale help it fit into the traditional neighborhood without calling attention to itself. The house was built around a large birch tree, with dwarf fountain grass and porcupine grass planted in front. A weeping blue atlas cedar provides a focal point near the front door. Photo  of Super-Insulated Houses That Stand Up to Winter's Chill

This Passive House-certified Portland home features high levels of insulation and high-performing, triple-glazed windows from Zola European Windows and Doors. Ample south-facing glazing is enhanced by exterior motorized aluminum shades, which provide solar gain in cooler months.

Modern home with Exterior, House, Wood Siding Material, and Flat RoofLine. Photo  of Super-Insulated Houses That Stand Up to Winter's Chill

When two retired teachers decided to build a new home, they knew they wanted an energy-efficient, no-stress Passive House design that would support aging in place. The resulting 1,800-square-foot house is the first Certified Passive House on the San Juan Islands in Washington, and it’s only the fourth in the state.

As far as Castrucci is concerned, he’s a modern architect with a modern view of the world, and that includes sustainability and aesthetics. “Good architecture will always relate to the sun and light; that’s important,” he says. In addition, with a solar array on the roof providing about a 4.2 kilowatt system per apartment, it’s like each resident has their own utility company. Photo  of Super-Insulated Houses That Stand Up to Winter's Chill modern home

At the edge of the Prospect Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn, a new development is pushing the edge of sustainability and green construction. R-951, a series of three 1,500-square-foot, open-loft style apartments that went up in early 2015, are some of the city’s first Passive House-certified and net-zero buildings, bringing solar-powered living to a medium-density section of New York.

The traditional massing masks a super-performing house, built to last for centuries.

Photo by: Eric Hausman Photography Photo  of Super-Insulated Houses That Stand Up to Winter's Chill modern home

The traditional massing of Chicago's first Passive House masks a super-performing house, built to last for centuries.

The rear facade, like the top-floor addition, is faced in rectangular panels of black rainscreen Richlite over exterior mineral wool insulation. Photo  of Super-Insulated Houses That Stand Up to Winter's Chill modern home

The street facade of New York City’s first certified Passive House, known as Tighthouse, is clad in pale gray stucco, sculpted with a few historic-looking details. It's rear offers a chic face in black with rainscreen Richlite over exterior mineral wool insulation. If you knock on its walls, they sound hollow: The stucco on the front of the house is merely the outermost layer in a 20-inch-thick insulated sandwich.

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