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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One response to “Our New England Passive House – Passivhaus Massachusetts Zero Energy ZEH

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