A Shortcut To Sustainable Living: Downsize!

Sustainable Living Through Sustainable Design The purpose of sustainable design and green building is to achieve sustainable living.  To do this, we attempt to make best possible use of the assets at hand.  That could mean designing and building from scratch.  It could also mean taking an existing dwelling and nudging it in the direction read more


Correction! PHPP is not free!

In my recent blog “Makin’ WUFI,” I misspoke:  PHPP, the Passive House Planning Package is not free, not even to those who payed to enroll in Passive House training.  When the New York Times or Washington Post makes a mistake, it is published on page two in fine print.  When I make a mistake–particularly about read more


stirring the passive house pot

Martin Holliday, Senior Editor for the Green Building Advisor, recently posted a provocative critique of the passive house system on his blog: http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/passivhaus-buildings-don-t-heat-themselves In his blog, Martin identifies the most challenging issue in creating a passive house:  the design of its mechanical systems–particularly in terms of managing excessive heat gains. As the lively array of read more


Is Sustainable Affordable? Yes, even at a macro scale

The question, is sustainable affordable not only applies to such relatively trivial decisions as ceramic tile for a backsplash–but also occurs at a macro scale.  This morning, Stanley Reed for the New York Times reports on how investments of hundreds of millions of dollars in renewable energy systems–in this case, wind farms in Sweden–can be read more


Phoenix Haus: the Modular Passive House

I am pleased to announce that I will be helping to develop modular Passive House designs for Phoenix Home Performance of Saginaw, Michigan.  The Phoenix Haus concept of super-insulated, factory built homes meeting the rigorous Passive House energy standard is the brainchild of the company’s visionary founder, Bill McDonald. The goal is to make passive house available read more


New Home Project achieves Passive House Precertification

After five rounds of revision, PHIUS has awarded the Grant Home project Passive House Pre-Certification status.  Youzza!  The reviewers delved into every detail of insulation, windows, and mechanical systems–even the amount of tree cover around the house site. The easy part is over.  Now, all we have to do is build it.  Over to you, read more


Ann Edminster, Green Building Advisor with a revolutionary mindset

In my last post, I mentioned that sustainabililty is a mindset. Ann Edminster, in a 2011 Green Building Advisor post “High Performance and Net Zero Homes” develops this concept, with revolutionary fervor, and no holds barred.   Her thesis is that for the green builder, there is a hierarchy of tools for transforming how we design read more


Is Sustainable Affordable, Part 2

Getting back to the core question:  “Is sustainable affordable?” The answer first requires a definition of sustainability—and offers an opportunity to distinguish sustainability from “Green.”  A sustainable method or material—or more importantly—a sustainable project, is one that can be produced in a way that does not significantly compromise other’s ability to produce the same thing read more