Habitat to build ‘Passive House'
Stuart, who has participated in the construction of HFH’s first two homes, began advocating for a home built to Passive House standards. “We know that our current energy codes do little to curtail the unwarranted use of energy to heat and cool our homes,” he said. “Passive House standards, which draw upon innovative designs to super insulate homes and drastically reduce the amount of energy used to occupy them, are now the most energy efficient standards in the world. One of the exciting elements of such design is that you eliminate the need for central heating and cooling systems, which traditionally consume huge quantities of fossil fuels and result in big energy/utility bills for the homeowner.”
At the latest meeting, both architects presented preliminary designs which will evolve as the project develops. Use of solar thermal for domestic hot water heating was discussed and concluded to be an integral part of the sustainable design. The team discussed use of a heat recovery ventilator to ensure good indoor air quality. Reclaimed materials will be targeted to both reduce costs and to improve the home’s sustainable development aspect.
Next, the team will meet at the site to measure solar availability and evaluate any remaining site issues. Groundbreaking is estimated for June. Members of the team will be seeking donations from regional businesses for various services or material needed.
Beyond providing a truly sustainable home for a deserving family, Stuart is involved for other reasons. “For me, volunteer work is a spiritual practice which actualizes the Unitarian Universalist belief to affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person,” he said. “I want this to be an example of what sustainable building is and to offer the other volunteers of HFH an opportunity to really get involved in that. We have a wonderful team to work with, a very supportive board of directors and an opportunity to walk our talk.”
For more information, contact Stuart at 845/252-6626. Visit www.passivehouse.us/passiveHouse/PHIUSHome.html to learn more about Passive House standards.