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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: 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.

mento and tape blog

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.

net zero | passive house, maryland : window install mock-up

Michael Hindle, CPHC, and I headed out to Western Maryland to review the window box and TJI insulating cavity mock-up.  It was cold and snowy.  Really cold.  I think I was the only one that noticed. The Gosnell crew is amazing, and, apparently impervious to freezing temperatures.

I said it was freezing, right? FYI, because of the freezing temperatures we chose to use tape for our water-tight detailing rather than a liquid applied product.  Once again, the Tescon Vana tape performed extremely well.  That stuff would stick snowflakes together.

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As shown in the photos above, every corner of the box is being taped as well as every edge of the window (allowing bottom free draining).  Our 11 7/8″ TJI wall is resting on the 4″ block ledge with a spacer of mineral wool sandwiched between the plywood base plate and the block.  The window box is a 5/8″ plywood box with a horizontal TJI top and bottom.

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Teamwork, Teamwork, Teamwork.  It is really a pleasure to watch these guys take pride in their work and listen to and learn new ways of building.  Peaceful implementation by the contractor is such a key factor to making these super-tight and efficient envelopes successful. Teamwork is always LESSON ONE.

 

net zero | passive house, maryland: blown away by the first blower door

The seams have been taped, the membranes have been sealed and not a creature was stirring.  We seized the moment to conduct our first blower door test and assess our Passive House progress.

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We are thrilled to report a .2158 ACH50 at this initial stage.  The results brought great pride to the guys at Gosnell Builders who are putting this thing together and shocked Mark Watkins, our Rater with his lowest number ever recorded.

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Thanks to our great team for working together and always being willing to learn some new tricks.

net zero | passive house, maryland: its all about the tape

Just in time for the holidays, our construction crew (Gosnell Builders) received a fine lesson in taping from Santa’s finest little taping elf (Michael Hindle, CPHC, Passive to Positive). Our elves were happy with the performance of both SIGA Wigluv and Tescon Vana tapes, which are being used over our primary plywood sheathing air barrier.

LESSONS LEARNED:

LESSON ONE:  Get in the field and see how planned methods work. Get your hands on the materials yourself to see that what you draw actually works. Or doesn’t.

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LESSON TWO:  With membranes and plastic sheets, corners matter. A lot.  Don’t just drape the membrane into an area with hopes that it will be sealed by the extra material.  Cut neat, flat areas in the field of an assembly, and bring them up to – but not over the corner – and tape it off.  Then tape a smaller, more manageable patch to fit into the corner.  Neatly fold the corners with sufficient, but not excessive overlap (it really is just like wrapping a gift).  Above may require a YouTube video of of above mentioned elf.

house taping

LESSON THREE:  As defined in our Sequence of Operations, we installed our SIGA membrane over the top of the foundation wall and under the sill plate, to be taped to the exterior sheathing later.  When the guys were installing this membrane, they used a large strip with lots of over-lap. This made it hard during taping because where one sheet ended and another picked up, the overlaps were so excessive that it was very hard to know if you were getting a continuous taped seam.  Also the excess material flapped in the western breezes over the course of a month and was in less than pristine taping condition.  If we use this method again, we will stipulate that overlaps be no more than 6″ and only narrow strips of material be left “hanging out” and be taped down temporarily.

 

 

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