Friday, July 17, 2015


Welcome to our Blog! I will be keeping you up to date during the construction of our Passive House in Rochester, NY. Right now we have a tentative break ground date of August 3rd 2015. There are still a few things up in the air, but if there are any changes I will let you know!

My goal is to post at least once a week, with lots of pictures and diagrams of how this house is constructed, and you will see that it is not an ordinary house. It is also my goal to show that it is not prohibitively expensive either - actually that it is affordable.

In all of my training cost has been the biggest question. Here are some things you will NOT see in this house:

  1.  Any Gas burning appliances: Bi-products of combustion are Carbon Dioxide, Water Vapor, and Carbon Monoxide. All of these are hazardous to your health, and Passive Houses know knows for their outstanding indoor air quality.
  2. Spray Foam Insulation: Don't get me wrong, spray foam is great, it certainly has it's place, but don't by into the "effective R-Value" term they like to sell you on. It is a great air sealer, it has a high R-Value per inch - but it is also EXPENSIVE. To achieve the R-Values necessary for a passive house, spray foam would not make the house what I would call affordable. 
  3. Radiant Floor Heating: The heating load of a passive house is so low, that radiant floor heating will over heat your house. In a Passive House all of the surfaces are the same temperature as the air. Radiant floor heating is also very difficult to achieve with electric (unless you have GEOTHERMAL: See next point) - Remember NO COMBUSTION.
  4. Geothermal Heat Pumps: Again the heat load of the house is so low, typically an air source heat pump will be sufficient - and around 90% less expensive
Here are some of the things you will see:
  1. LOTS of Cellulose insulation: Cellulose has the lowest embodied energy of all insulation - which means it takes the least amount of energy to make. It has just as high of an R-Value as Open Cell Foam and it is very affordable
  2. Thick Exterior Walls: To meet the stringent passive house standards we needed 16" thick exterior walls - which complicate the details somewhat - again, why the architect is so important!
  3. European Triple Pane Passive House Windows: European windows are probably the single biggest upgrade to a passive house. These windows are 3 times as efficient as an energy star window, they don't leak, and you will not see condensation on the inside of the window EVER and the inside pane of glass is never cold - so you don't feel any drafts. 
  4. Ventilation System: With such a tight building, fresh air is a must. When the ventilation system is designed properly, you have a constant flow of fresh filtered air in the living spaces and you are constantly removing the stale air from the bathrooms and kitchen. It operates as such a low flow rate that you don't notice that air is moving at all - it is just always fresh!
If you have any questions about any of my posts, feel free to leave me a comment or you can email me at mattb@airtightservicesinc,com

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