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December 05, 2016
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Habitat to build ‘Passive House'

FALLSBURG, NY — Planning is underway for an exciting building project believed to be one of the first of its kind in the realm of homes built through the Habitat for Humanity (HFH) program. This special home will be Sullivan County’s third HFH project and first home designed to Passive House standards and targeted to serve as a learning tool for the volunteer work force that will build it.

The Passive House concept is a building standard that sets a very specific—and very low—operating energy budget for homes or buildings constructed to that standard. The home will be designed as a three-to-four-bedroom, two-bath structure, with a maximum of 1,230 square foot net living space. It will be built on a frost-protected slab and a thermal envelope will wrap all six sides of the house.

The home’s location was determined as a result of a property donation to HFH. The family who gets to occupy it will be identified by the HFH Family Selection Committee and will be expected to participate in the home’s construction.

The project’s planning team consists of five individuals. Pat Pomeroy is the president of the Sullivan chapter of HFH, and serves as the board liaison with the construction committee.

Michael Chojnicki and Buck Moorhead are architects brought on board for their special connections to community and to sustainability issues. Chojnicki and Stephen Stuart of Sustainable Solutions collaborated in developing and teaching a sustainable building course for Sullivan County BOCES. Moorhead is training as a Passive House Consultant and brings a wealth of community planning experience to the project.

Bert Echt of Evergreen Design will serve as the project’s construction manager and Stuart is coordinating the process.

“Bert and I worked on the HFH house in Liberty and believed that a more sustainable house could be built,” said Stuart. “We expressed our interest to the HFH Board of Directors and the board invited us to be a part of the construction committee. Bert is a genius at putting together low tech systems that work well and conserve energy.”

Stuart and Chojnicki recently attended the 36th annual Northeast Sustainable Energy Association’s (NESEA) BuildingEnergy Conference in Boston, PA (www.NESEA.org). NESEA is a regional organization promoting sustainable energy practices. Its members are self-described “practical idealists” who are passionate about healthy, efficient buildings and transportation systems powered by clean renewable energy.