How should you design and detail a wood stove in an airtight Passive House? Here are some of the considerations, and the approach we used on this project.
First off: should you even have a wood stove in a Passive House? This is rightly a matter of some debate. It’s certainly not necessary, as our temperature data have shown: this particular house has proven it can stay habitable even through the coldest of cold snaps—maintaining ~55 degF even in -20 degF outdoor temperatures without mechanical heating.
And, a wood stove in a Passive House comes with downsides and risks:
Continue reading “A Wood Stove in a Passive House”
We were pleased to host the Iowa Building Enclosure Council (BEC) once again to show our progress on the house and review the design process we used to meet our ambitious energy and cost goals.
The group toured the house previously in 2017, and we were delighted to be able to show our progress.
This past weekend was a big milestone: we passed our initial blower door test, exceeding our airtightness target of 530 CFM @50Pa (a target based on Passive House standards as well as early energy analysis). Here’s what we learned about our air barrier.
Continue reading “Blower Door Test: Two and a Half Weak Points in Our Air Barrier”
Below is the slideshow I presented on April 20, 2017 to the Iowa Building Enclosure Council, and to a sustainable construction class from Hawkeye Community College.
The version below is slightly edited to make it easier to follow online. (I tend to avoid text in my presentations, which can make them difficult to follow without accompaniment.)
Continue reading “Slideshow: Achieving Net Zero Energy at Conventional Cost”
We were pleased to host the Iowa chapter of the Building Enclosure Council (BEC) for a house tour and presentation, as well as a sustainable construction class from Hawkeye College. Many thanks to everyone who came out — including for the many excellent questions and kind words about the house.
Continue reading “Iowa Building Enclosure Council Tour”
It’s now been a little over a month since we’ve been gathering temperature and humidity data from the still-not-complete and still-unconditioned house. I previously wrote that the early data seemed to show more stable, and generally warmer, indoor temperatures. That story is now even clearer.
Continue reading “Temperature Sensors – An Update”
We’ve added temperature and humidity sensors to the house in three locations, so we can start to track the home’s actual measured performance. While these sensors will be most useful once the house is complete, the data that’s coming back now is already interesting, and is already showing the effectiveness of the passive design measures.
For those interested, you can track the live data here: http://www.iowanest.com/monitor/
Continue reading “A House That Maintains Its Own Temperature”
I was on-site last week (Jan. 9-10) for the installation of Zola windows. This was both exciting and nerve-wracking for a few reasons:
- Installing the windows correctly is critical to both the water management strategy and air tightness of the house. I wanted to make sure the details I had drawn actually worked out in practice.
- The windows are massive. Each panel of the large lift-slide doors weighed 1000 lbs., and the second floor study window was 800 lbs.
- The windows are one of the most expensive line items for the entire house. The possibility of damaging them was a bit scary.
Further complicating the process were extremely cold temperatures, and one day of rain (just enough to cover everything with mud).
In charge of the installation was Harry Schilling of Schilling Construction. I was incredibly pleased with Harry’s work and would highly recommend him for other projects. He and his team were fast and efficient while also paying close attention to detail. Harry also taught the owner and his assistant how to perform the installation, so they could help out with many of the steps, thereby reducing the labor costs.
Here’s how the windows were installed — both in theory and in practice.
Continue reading “Installing Zola Windows”
I incorporated energy and daylight analysis as part of the conceptual design for the Iowa Nest Residence. This meant that early design discussions encompassed both traditional topics like floor plan layout, siting, and aesthetics, as well as performance criteria. The addition of analysis added a trivial amount of time, but proved incredibly valuable. Here’s how I did it — and what I will do differently next time.
Continue reading “Incorporating Analysis in Concept Design”
Iowa, like much of the American Midwest, has a treacherous combination of deep, cold winters and hot, humid summers. Could we overcome this with good passive design? Could shading, natural ventilation, earth berming, and the like obviate the need for air conditioning?
Here’s how I went about answering this question. This analysis was done in early design so that the answer could inform basic design moves.
Continue reading “Can We Avoid Air Conditioning?”