Pinch Me

May 23rd, 2010 by Tim Eian
Passive House in the Woods on 5/10/2010

Passive House in the Woods on 5/10/2010

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.

Passive House in the Woods southwest elevation

Southwest elevation on 5/10/2010

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,
Steve Swanson,
Remodeling Project Developer,
Morr Construction Services Inc.


Comments are closed.