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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!

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.

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 : 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.

window install1

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.

 

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