Best New Home: Passive House Perfection
This compact farmhouse achieves home building’s highest performance standard without a shred of aesthetic compromise
When architect Justin Pauly first sent plans for a new Passive House he had designed to the planning commission in Carmel, Calif., he and Rob Nicely, the builder, were so excited that they sent along a brochure on Passive House construction. Although the commissioners initially balked at the proposal, they eventually came around and approved the plan for the small site, which is hemmed in on three sides by other houses and on the fourth by a cluster of redwood trees. Pauly’s 1600-sq.-ft. house has an open floor plan with intimate spaces branching off from a central dining area. A small second floor contains a guest suite, and attached to the house by a breezeway is a single-car garage. A patio off the dining area faces the redwoods. With the exception of certain duct runs, the mechanical system–a heat-recovery ventilator with a hydronic coil added as a backup heating element–is housed in a crawlspace under the house. This design meant forgoing a concrete slab, which is often used in Passive Houses to store solar energy. As an alternative, phase-change materials (PCMs) were used in the wall assemblies on the south side of the house. PCMs serve as thermal heat sinks and are installed as sheets behind the drywall of interior walls. For its marriage of style and Passive House performance, this house is FHB‘s best new home for 2013.
See more award-winning homes from the 2013 HOUSES Awards.