The exterior of the passive house, which features beautiful landscaping and plenty of space for summer fun
Upon first meeting with clients for this project, David Supple of New England Design & Construction (NEDC, nedesignbuild.com) says that their focus was immediately to build something that would do good on the planet. “They said, ‘We want to do our part,’” he explains. In this case, doing their part meant hiring the NEDC team to design and construct a fully certified passive house: an energy-efficient home that reduces its ecological footprint by using little energy for heating or cooling. “The main benefits of it are not only energy efficiency and reducing the carbon footprint and climate change, but on a more personal level, it’s a more comfortable home. These fluctuations of temperature are very minimal compared to the average home, and it’s also the air quality. The air quality is significantly enhanced from the projects, and that is a point that I think is not talked about often enough,” Supple adds. This is done through a specific HVAC system called an energy recovery ventilator (ERV), which is a series of tubes throughout the home that constantly circulates air at a low cubic feet per minute. “Any air that comes into the house goes through that filtration system and is cleaned, as well as any of the air that’s extracted from the house,” adds Chad Zgradden, project manager and certified passive house builder. Because of this, there aren’t even any bath fans, as the system takes care of removing any moisture from the air. “Another important part about the ERV system is it captures the warm air, mixes it and puts the warmth back in the house, and that lowers your demand for your electricity for heat,” says design director Grady Ragsdale. And the benefits don’t end there. In fact, the walls themselves are 12 inches deep and filled with layers of insulation, which helps to retain the energy within the home—a huge characteristic of what makes a passive house. Even the windows are strategically placed based on the orientation of the room and the amount of sunlight. “This is the way that building construction is going to go in the next 10 or 15 years,” Aaron Newell, construction manager and certified passive house builder, concludes. “Everybody calls these houses the Tesla of the home world.” And we can see why.