Monthly Archives: July 2010

Our New England Passive House – Passivhaus Massachusetts Zero Energy ZEH

OK, so this is just a utilitarian post to help all those people interested in Passive House / Passivhaus / Zero Energy Homes to find us here in Stow, MA, just outside Boston, MA. Our walls and roof have A LOT of insulation and our roof is covered with PVs. We have sailed thru several 95F and 100F days without really needing any AC assuming it cools off enough in the evening to cool off decently.

First some qualifiers:
– The house was just finished in May 2010 and we are working out a few kinds with the HVAC so we won’t know if we are truly a “Net Zero” house for at least a year. But that’s OK. If we’re not, we are probably only off by a tiny bit.
– Same goes with Passivhaus. We actually decided to not seek Passivhaus certification because 1) I wanted double hung windows. 2) I generally didn’t want to do (too many) things that we’re practical.
– In that sense, we’re probably more of a Zero Energy Home, except that I am totally of the mind that solar electric panels (PVs) are really just an offset. So they are less interesting to me than the insulation and inexpensive methods of solar heating and solar hot water.
– That said, PVs have really come down in price, and electricity is dirty and expensive in MA, so it’s really worth doing.
– A house like this is really like recycling in a sense because it doesn’t really require any major lifestyle change. Some may disagree, but really… no, nothing substantial. Nothing really is any different. If anything it’s even MORE comfortable. Better air-quality. Warmer in winter and cooler in the summer with small or non-existent utility bills. This is nice in some ways, but is not in others (in that it is easy to think you are saving the world or something. Not so fast.) Many things like living in a very small house/cohousing, composting, using composting toilets, permaculture, vegetable gardening, sharing tools/cars/etc, not driving/flying/eating meat/buying junk/etc, are all different ways of reducing impact in a very big way. Someone doing ALL of this stuff would be very green indeed.
– It’s cold in New England. But it also gets quite hot sometimes. We’ve had 100F days this year and several in the 90s. And humid. So one needs to consider cooling/dehumidifying a bit as well as heating.

OK, actually that is all I wanted to really say here I guess. Contact me via phone or email listed at the link in the ABOUT section if you’d like to see the house or just want to know more. I have a lot of information and opinions about how to build a house like this. Or deep-energy retrofit. There are many things we did I’d recommend, but some I would not, based on our experience, new thinking, and new information I have read. “Do as I say, not as I do”. 🙂

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Filed under erik-green, passive house, solar, superinsulation

Died today of an apparent heart attack. He was 65.

These sorts of headlines are why I am now eating mostly “beans and greens” as some like to say. A plant-based diet.

There are three(?) doctors that I am aware of who have worked with heart-bypass patients who afterwards have reversed heart disease using a plant-based diet. Sure I eat ice cream sometimes and chocolate and pizza and such. But not much. I’ve lost approximately 30 pounds in about 1/2 year with like zero effort. You could too!

Google up : esselstyn ornish fuhrman “eat to live”

I heard Esselstyn (the father) on NPR a few years ago. LINK

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Filed under cancer, education, erik-green, heart disease

Learning to read and write on your own terms

Some feedback/comments on a post over at Maria’s blog that is very related to Sudbury schools and I suppose unschooling:

Post here: Evidence – Or Watching Kids Read and Write in Summer in our Family Day Care

> … and learn to read as they do to talk.

I think if you talk to staff at any of the Sudbury schools… they can tell you about 40 years of this happening. It doesn’t seem to be a question mark to me?

Personally, writing as a parent of a 5 year old Sudbury Valley enrollee who is on his way to reading and writing… my comment is yes… it seems he is (very simply) learning to do this in his own way and on his own timetable. So yes, very much as he learned to walk and talk and ride a 2 wheel bike and on and on….

He is VERY(!) interested in numbers, so he already reads and writes (and calculates) those. So I guess one could say he is already very number or math literate. (More about some of the very cool things he says in math land in another post.) A-Z are less interesting to him in a reading sense for whatever reason, or maybe it’s VERY interesting to him, but he just for whatever reason knows that he isn’t ready. It really doesn’t matter to me. One day, he will just be reading Harry Potter books on his own. Or the plant names in “Plants and Zombies”. (FWIW… He already has no problem finding the bookmarks he needs and the START / PLAY / BEGIN / ENTER buttons he needs in order to get to the games he wants to play. I wouldn’t call this “reading” personally. But I digress…)

As a parent, it is VERY exciting to get to experience him doing this stuff on his own terms, in his own way. Just like watching him crawl or walk or talk for the first times. So… very exciting on one level, but so natural and very normal really. That’s how it feels to me. Normal. Natural. Awesome.

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Filed under alternative education, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School