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the zero honeycomb: net zero, passive house construction update

I think I’ve mentioned before that it has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with an amazing artist and sculptor on their net zero, passive house.  We took the day to visit the site in New Jersey and it was thrilling to walk through these spaces that as complicated as they were in 2D, I was able to create the 3D visualization in my head to successfully build a set of construction drawings.  But there is nothing like walking through the actual spaces that now physically exist.

So many great things happening with this project – foam-free and net zero; perlite under slab; pre-manufactured wall trusses as the insulation cavity; low-cost, DIY construction techniques; and creative use of color and material.

I can’t forget to add the experience of exceptional lunches from the garden with every visit!

ZERO on the Severn: Construction Starting on No Foam, Net Zero Retrofit in Annapolis

We are excited to begin construction on this Net Zero, Deep Energy Retrofit of a 1900’s bungalow set on an amazingly gorgeous, perfectly oriented site on the Severn River in Annapolis.  We are fortunate to have a client dedicated to efficiency, beauty and quality.  The result will be an extraordinary retrofit of a completely inefficient, moldy, run-down house into a foam-free, healthy, zero-energy home.  We are wrapping the existing exterior framing – wall and roof – in 5″ of mineral wool,  replacing and relocating windows with high-performance, triple-glazed windows and completely air sealing to create a Passive House level shell.  We are employing fixed and operable shading devices to provide necessary shading. Materials and design inside and out are natural, durable and environmentally friendly.  This project is another in collaboration with Michael Hindle of Passive to Positive.

the zero honeycomb | passive house, net zero: framing + taping

Our Net Zero, Passive House, Foam-Free home in New Jersey is taking shape!  The 2×6 framing has been completed and the plywood air barrier installed and taped.  Taping and air sealing the various overhangs and angles has been a challenge, but thanks to the diligence of the owner and Michael Hindle of Passive to Positive, the initial blower door test is set up to be a success!

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net zero | passive house, western maryland: coming to a close

We are thrilled at the success and completion of our first Foam-Free, (near) Net Zero, Passive House in Western Maryland.  The home is currently in the final stages of testing and certification and interior finishing. It has been an educational process with material usage, system selection and install, air sealing and insulation, window install and team collaboration.

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The views and placement of the house are extraordinary and achieve the homeowner’s goal of a comfortable, accessible, high performance home designed to view the meadow, marsh and forest.

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For more photos of the final walk-thru, visit the project page.

CarMic House on Green Building Advisor

Carri and Michael’s home renovation is being featured as a Guest Blog on Green Building Advisor!

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net zero | passive house, western maryland: sometimes its the little things….

like beautiful garage doors by Clopay to compliment the cedar porch…

garage doors blog

and clean, straight plumbing and condensation lines set against a backdrop of taped SIGA Majpell.

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universal design on the gunpowder: slab pour, rumford fireplace, roof framing

Upon the arrival of the Roxul mineral wool insulation for sub slab, the contractor relaid the Stego vapor barrier (taped to edges at perimeter).  This delay actually may have been a good thing, as the mineral wool was protected from the elements and heavy foot traffic and slab was able to be immediately poured. slab pour

The framing of the second floor and roof are nearing completion.  We are using 2×6 structural walls with 3/4″ plywood sheathing, all edges and corners taped and sealed.  The headers above each opening are two TJIs with Roxul mineral wool sandwiched between them – we have insulated headers!  The lead carpenter did not find it to be time consuming or of any issue, but rather thought it was pretty cool and a no-brainer.

The fireplace is a Rumford fireplace, the most efficient design in providing warmth to a space.

roof and fireplace

universal design on the gunpowder: framing and foam-free

The construction for the addition and renovation to our Gunpowder project is moving along quickly. Because the under slab Roxul mineral wool was a little difficult to source and had a longer lead time, our contractor got creative and “pre-installed” the StegoWrap vapor barrier to wrap under the sill plate.  We will go back and cut out the barrier to install slab insulation, tape back in the vapor barrier and pour the slab.

vapor barrier

Framing is 2×6 walls with 3/4″ plywood sheathing, fully taped to provide our primary air barrier.  We are then installing 1-1/2″ of Roxul mineral wool, Tyvek and then furring strips.  This has been a terrific learning experience as we work with the contractor and project lead to find economical, smart ways to create a foam-free, well-sealed healthy envelope.

mineral wool on walls

 

net zero | passive house, western maryland: the views are revealed, window + door install

The large bird viewing windows have been covered with plywood for months as we await the delivery and install of our doors and windows.  The client chose INTUS uPVC windows for their performance, cost and manufacturer provided sill extensions.  The fact that the client could visit a local showroom and see these windows in person was also critical to their decision making.

Our window detail went through many rounds of design and mark-up between myself, Michael Hindle, CPHC and the team at Gosnell Builders.  The result is an air + water tight detail with little to no thermal bridging and over-insulating of the frame.  We also maintained our FOAM-FREE insulating details!

window details

Making the 2D line drawings translate into construction reality was not a problem with our eager construction crew.  Though labor intensive, the resulting air tightness and performance will be outstanding.

window installNot to mention the amazing views for bird watching!

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net zero | passive house, maryland: mento + furring

Upon hanging the TJI insulation cavity, the vapor open Weather Resistant Barrier (WRB) was installed and all seams were taped.  Given the pressure of the cellulose that will be blown-in behind this WRB, we decided to use Solitex Mento 1000 and taped with our favorite Tescon Vana tape.

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The next layer is the ventilation cavity / rainscreen / furring strips.  We decided on horizontal with vertical furring strips to keep the cellulose bulge in check and maintain an acceptable ventilation cavity as well as provide a more substantial nailing surface for our engineered wood siding.

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8333 main street, 2nd floor · ellicott city, md 21043
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