Follow the Construction of a Connecticut Passive Home
November 3, 2016
The 3,400-square-foot farmhouse will include double-wall construction, advanced air sealing, and a geothermal system
By: Jennifer Goodman
While vacationing at a sustainable treehouse resort in Costa Rica, Deb and Russell Heinrich were inspired to build their eco-friendly dream home on their 8-acre farm in North Guilford, Conn. The home would be self-sustaining and leave a small carbon footprint.
The Heinrichs sought out Celebration Green Design & Build of Madison, Conn., to transform their barn-inspired home design into a zero energy home that would enhance the homestead’s function, including the ability to grow organic food and a self-sustaining landscape, raise animals like goats chickens and bees, grow animal feed and compost waste.
To meet these requirements, Celebration utilized Passive Home building principles as guidelines for designing the Heinrichs’ zero energy home. The builder used these principals because “homes built to passive home standards are extremely energy efficient, using 80 to 90 percent less energy, which reduces renewable technology demand,” says Bill Freeman, owner of Celebration.
The builder also took into consideration climate-specific passive building standards during the design process. Connecticut is in climate zone 5A, which means the state has a cold and wet climate. This designation is important when developing plans for a zero energy, passive house, as it affects many aspects of the home including HVAC equipment sizing and insulation.
The 3,400-square-foot house plan includes:
– Thermal bridge-free double wall-construction
– Advanced air sealing, superior insulation
– High performance tilt-n-turn triple pane windows
– Mechanical ventilation
– Renewable energy technologies including a geothermal HVAC system and photovoltaic array
Additionally, to help the homestead function as part of a working farm and achieve a sustainable lifestyle, the builder incorporated a root cellar to serve as cold storage for food into the home’s design, and saved leftover construction materials for the Heinrichs to use to build a greenhouse.
With an approved plan, Freeman consulted with a surveyor and solar engineer to survey the site and analyze its orientation and topography prior to construction. This led to re-orienting the home to face south to achieve the highest PV array efficiency. Also due to Connecticut’s rocky terrain, the garage had to be moved after test holes found bedrock. To avoid the expense of blasting rock, Freeman recommended doing a mirror image of the house, which provided a better lay-out for the driveway and property views.