Archive for the ‘Progress Report’ Category

Optiwin Windows arrive from Germany

May 21st, 2010 by Tim Delhey Eian

Today, the Optiwin windows from Germany that Peak Building Products supplied arrived at the site.


Mini Series Part 3: Assembly Design

May 12th, 2010 by Tim Delhey Eian

As Passive House designers, we are concerned with air-tightness and insulation value, as well as indoor environmental quality, hygrothermal performance, embodied energy, and green interior design. We selected construction methods and materials that combine highest performance with durability, robustness, and reasonable environmental impact. We preferred local product where suitable, and specialized product as needed to meet performance and aesthetic goals–always with a focus on the client’s vision, sustainable design, and the greater good.

Passive House performance is in the details. We meticulously defined air-barrier, vapor barrier, and insulation thickness at any junction, and made sure that they are continuous throughout.

Careful assembly design and detailing plays a huge roll in high-performance buildings. This is our specialty and we bring years of experience to this process. During the construction process, we assist the general contractor with site observations to help see details all the way through production. After all, it is on the job site where the performance is built.

Passive House in the Woods continuous insulation below the slab

Continuous insulation below the basement slab

Passive House in the Woods, air and vapor barrier at basement slab

Sealed air and vapor barrier below the basement slab

Passive House in the Woods, basement slab

Finished basement slab

Tomorrow: Powered by Electricity?


New Construction Videos

May 9th, 2010 by Tim Delhey Eian

Morr Construction posted another set of videos from the jobsite—this time centered around the construction of the roof and parapet walls. The rooftop is designed as a terrace with concrete pavers. It’ll serve as a stargazing platform, and a hangout/entertainment space with a 30+ mile view. It’s also host to a 1kW photovoltaic system, as well as a 4 x 10 foot solar thermal collector.


Front Entry Elevation & Exterior Insulation

May 7th, 2010 by Tim Delhey Eian

Passive House in the Woods front entry elevation

This image shows the approach to the building from the road, which is a bit lower than the grade surrounding the home. The exterior insulation package is going up now and we expect to backfill soon.

Passive House in the Woods: below grade exterior insulation package


Shape Shifting

March 20th, 2010 by Tim Delhey Eian

Passive House in the Woods and Garage

The exterior shape of house and garage are now near complete. What we are missing is the exterior insulation package, which will add almost one foot to the overall size of the house. The front entry area will also be sheltered by a canopy roof and side wall structure. All in all however, this image gives us a first glimpse at the final geometry of the two buildings side-by-side.

The garage is built using conventional stick-frame construction. We are using advanced stick-framing to reduce the amount of FSC certified wood. The shell is clad with an exterior grade gypsum sheathing. This is the more common substraight for exterior finish and insulation systems.

There will be two east-facing garage doors, and a south-facing side door. This is the only access to the house. There is no interior door connecting the two structures, to avoid both thermal disruptions, as well as a potential for interior air pollution from exhaust gases in the garage.

On top of the garage, the flat roof will be filled with sedums, planted in a tray system. This will minimize storm water run-off and create a more pleasant view from the roof top terrace up above. Remaining run-off is slated to be captured in rain barrels for use on site.


Construction Site Videos

February 27th, 2010 by Tim Delhey Eian

Steve Swanson and Josh Crenshaw of Morr Construction have been documenting the construction process over the last few months. We created a permanent link to their videos. You can also find it on the left hand side of this blog. We look forward to more videos to come. Here is the most recent post:


More Insulation and Exterior Impressions

February 4th, 2010 by Tim Delhey Eian

Exterior insulation package at garage wallGarage foundation north of the house

We just received new photos from the site showing the first installation of the added exterior insulation package. This picture was taken in the area between the house and the adjacent garage (see second image), where 8″ of EPS are placed between two layers of ICF. Technically, the garage is independent of the Passive House building envelope. It will be built right next to it. For structural purposes however, both share a common frost footing. Above grade, the garage will be constructed using advanced stick framing. It’s built more conventionally, since Passive House is not a concern for the garage. Nonetheless, we decided to use EIFS for the facade of the garage, too, just with a lot less insulation (2 inches versus 11).

Southeast cornerSouthwest corner

These two images show the second floor ICF structure completed. Both corner windows are now roughed in. When completed, steel columns will support the corners structurally. The columns are only a couple of inches in diameter, which means they fit nicely in the corner provided by the window frames and do not obstruct the view. We opted for making the corner with window frames, rather than frameless glass. The latter one would have been more spectacular to look at, but form a performance standpoint, we felt that a glass-to-glass connection was not robust enough.


Second Floor Construction

February 2nd, 2010 by Tim Delhey Eian

Northeast corner, second floor constructionNorthwest corner, second floor constructionSoutheast corner, second floor construction

The last week saw the construction of the second floor walls and deck. Construction of the ICF building envelope is now almost complete, with only the parapet level to go. During a recent site visit, we noticed that the passive solar exposure is excellent—just as predicted. The low winter sun penetrates the spaces deep, and at the right time of day, the entire floor surface is in full sun. Even on cold winter days, without windows and with “only” the R-21 ICF envelope in place, the solar heat gains are very noticeable. I can see how Morr’s crew enjoys working inside the envelope with cold temperatures outside.

The perimeter of the excavation is tarped off to prevent accumulation of snow, and allow for work near the footings to be completed. The schedule calls for installation of the below grade insulation package in the next few weeks. The exterior of the building will see 11″ of EPS. In addition, the below-grade portion of the garage should go up, soon. This will complete the geometry of the building on the North side.


Southwest Corner

January 24th, 2010 by Tim Delhey Eian

Just a quick impression today. This photo is already a bit over a week old but it captures the southwest corner quite nicely.


Insulation under Footings

January 14th, 2010 by Tim Delhey Eian

One of the questions we frequently get is whether insulation can actually be installed below footings. The photos above show a 12″ insulation package below a bearing line inside the building perimeter. These footings are engineered, and the foam that’s being used was selected based on its compressive strength to deal with the specific loads. So the short answer is, it can be done. The long answer is that we look carefully at the specific conditions to determine, whether this is necessary or not. Not all cases will see as many layers of insulation as you see in these images either. When it comes to the application, we try to limit it to two layers of insulation with staggered joints. In this particular case, we only had one area of the building that utilizes this particular foam board, and therefore stuck with a readily available 2″ board material.