Archive for the ‘Impressions’ Category
The green roof on top of the garage has just been installed. I captured this image in the afternoon hours so it is a bit hard to make out the little plants with the shadows of the trees to the West obscuring the view. The early spring, warm temperatures and frequent rains should help it fill in quickly. This vegetated roof will be very pleasant to view during the ascent to the rooftop terrace, which was also partially planted.
On an unrelated note, I captured the image below of the shadows of the trees on the stucco of the West facade. I always liked how shadows animate the stucco facades and create an interesting visual interaction between the house and its natural surroundings.
1940 square feet seemed large, but when it comes to filling the spaces with furniture and possessions, it didn’t take long to realize I had more than I needed. Goodwill has been the beneficiary.
Having three house levels plus a roof terrace, leads to lots of steps, just like a built in stair master. I thought I was exercising prior to my move, but my legs tell me I wasn’t exercising enough by their aching, however, it didn’t take long for this to resolve.
The views are wonderful. The snow has really cleaned up the landscape while coating the trees. Star gazing is great from the roof terrace, as is the “living” in the tree tops during the day and watching the birds in trees as well as soaring overhead. So far the herd of 6 neighborhood deer have not been a frequent visitor of my yard, we’ll see how my deer fence fares when the plants start sprouting and looking more tasty for the deer. One nervous 8 point buck, was walking on the outside of my fence a few weeks ago. He hasn’t returned; yet.
My biggest surprise has been the amount of heat the windows allow into the house. Sitting in the sun a few weekends ago, it was clear that this was not a typical indoor sun experience. The sun was warmer than what I had previously noted in my other houses. It was comfortably warm. Listening to Tim Eian during a house tour the next week, I finally heard the window stats in context. 64% of the sun’s heat is transmitted through the windows into the structure, more than twice as much heat as a standard window will allow. Earlier in the Fall, I needed to lower the exterior shades to prevent the house from overheating. After this experience, I thought I would see how long I could have my in floor heating mats unplugged before the house became too uncomfortable. On Sunday, 11/28/2010, after a mostly cloudy 8 days, I plugged in the heating mats with the house temperature at 60 degrees. It took about one day for the temperature to normalize at 67 degrees.
On sunny days the house temperature goes up 10-15 degrees using only solar heating through the windows along with the heat my two dogs and canary contribute, with an outdoor temperature of 10-30 degrees.
Similarly, the solar hot water and photovoltaic systems are very sensitive to the cloud cover. But even on the 10 degree days, the solar hot water tank gets up to 100 degrees.
This relationship of the house to the sun, outside and weather has heightened my awareness of the outdoors in my day to day living. The large windows and grand views only add to this awareness. It is a comfortable awareness and increased connectedness to the larger world; even if it is only outside my window.
The cold weather brought house contraction sounds; some quite loud. It took a me a while to determine this was the cause of my dogs being skittish and on a hunger strike last week. Fortunately, they and I have become accustomed to this “house talk”, as well as having less of this settling as time has passed.
As the weather turned cold, I noticed Box Elder bugs on the windows. Unlike my previous houses, this time the bugs were on the outside. Certainly, a nice change.
As I was shoveling this morning I saw little footprints of a mouse or vole had circled my garaged looking for a crevice to gain entry. No such luck for the little rascal, he’ll just have to stay in the woodpile this winter. Such a nice perk of a Passive House, it’s built very tight and by extension, so is my garage, at least for rodents!
Have an enjoyable Holiday Season, stay warm, but do get outside!
My talented wife Amy Eian put together a beautiful slideshow based on the gorgeous photos Chad Holder took. You may find the gallery by clicking on this link or the image above.
I finally took some photos that show the exterior of the home. Enjoy.
Thanks for joining the over 600 people who came to visit the Passive House in the Woods yesterday. We had a great time showing you the home on this picture-perfect day. We hope that you found the event informative and entertaining. We’ll continue to post updates on the building on this website.
Thanks for joining the tour today. We had a good time showing the Passive House in the Woods and for the first time, the German Optiwin windows installed in the ICF walls.
For Morr Construction Services Inc. the Passive House in the Woods has been a ‘pinch me’ moment from the time the plans were originally brought to our office. The overall concept of a house that can maintain its internal comfort at the highest level with a net positive energy production seems almost impossible unless you live in southern California where the sun shines almost constantly and the weather is nearly perfect to start with. To build this concept in the upper midwest with some of the harshest weather in the US is a daunting prospect, but one we at Morr Construction Services Inc. were extremely interested to pursue. A few years ago we were presented with a project that was to be site-neutral in terms of energy use. Some of the technology was not quite ready and the overall design, being very large and luxurious, seemed somewhat antithetical to the concept. Although we succeeded in building a very efficient home for its size, the building was not ‘engineered’ so much as ‘designed’ and the energy production and efficiency took a back seat to architectural design and amenities. The Passive House design is a modern architectural statement where the engineering is an integral part of the design process, not an added component on a traditional plan. This seems to us to be a more holistic approach and appeals to us on the level of a building systems approach, where all aspects of a design are evaluated for performance as well as aesthetics.
It has been both a privilege and an education to be involved in the discussions concerning construction details, weighing in with cost and durability concerns as well as feasibility and implementation. Our work qualifying subcontractors bids has put Morr Construction Services Inc. into the role of educator as well as overseer because many of the subcontractors are operating on a different level than what they are used to. The protocols concerning durability, sustainability, and indoor air quality are not universally applied in the homebuilding industry and we have had to search out the most technically advanced participants in our area. With the windows on the way and the framing completed, we are looking forward to sharing some of the details and concepts of the Passive House in the Woods with our colleagues and associates at upcoming tours. On that note, we had a great time explaining the thick wall section we brought to the Living Green Expo that replicates the exterior wall construction of the PhitW. We’ll take it again to the Greening the Heartland show at the convention center next week and see if we can raise a few more eyebrows.
All the best,
Remodeling Project Developer,
Morr Construction Services Inc.
We had a great day on site today, showing the construction of the Passive House in the Woods. We’ll do this again when the house is finished. Thanks to the Team for being there today, and to our sponsors for their generous support.
I was walking around the lot where the PHitW is being built and found some blooming sedges and spring ephemeral woodland anemones. I thought I’d share a couple of photos of them with everyone.
The house is looking good. Even with leaky plastic on the windows, the top two floors of the house were quite warm Sunday afternoon, making it very clear that a ventilation system is needed. The basement was nice and cool.
The neighbor to the north was impressed with the work crews at the site, he said that he was not inconvenienced at all by the construction.