Passive House Retreat Consuming 86% Less Energy Than a Similar Home
This vacation residence located in a beautiful ocean community on the New England coast features high performance and creative use of space in a small package. ZeroEnergy Design created the simple, gable-roofed structure and proposed the Passive House standard. The resulting home consumes only 14% of the energy compared to a similar new home built only to code requirements. The client sought a modern two-bedroom, two-bath private retreat that was right-sized for their family – nothing more, nothing less – and a goal of minimizing energy use. The site offered excellent southern exposure, however paired that with the challenge of a lovely north-facing agrarian view.
ZED planned the home’s gable form as a defining aesthetic feature. Its iconic shape is repeated both inside and out. Simple finishes, bright colors, minimal trim, and concrete floors achieve a clean, fresh look for the interior. The layout carefully aligns with the family’s planned use. Bedrooms are located at either end of the home. A central space with cathedral-like ceilings includes living and cooking areas with northern views and ample southern daylight. A dining nook, on the south side of the space, accommodates a large table for both family and friends without encroaching on the open space. A loft, overlooking the living space, allows for extra sleeping areas and a dedicated play space for children. The family also expressed their love of bathing, which was addressed by including a dedicated sun-filled tub room in the southeast corner of the home.
High R-values in the home, including R-44 walls, R-50 slab foundation, R-60 roof, and meticulous air sealing result in a vast reduction in space conditioning requirements. A single air source heat pump provides heating and cooling distributed via exposed ductwork. After collecting a year of measured data, the result is an electric house that consumes 86% less energy when compared to the same house built only to code requirements. Installing a photovoltaic system of only 4.1 kW would offset the total annual energy consumption, effectively making the home net zero energy. [Photos and information provided via e-mail by Adam Prince of ZeroEnergy Design]