The next stop on my West Coast Passive House trip was very close to the North residence project that the Artisans Group showed me. Tessa designed an absolutely stunning home for an artist on a lot with a breathtaking view.
The Freas residence and workshop will be set back from the road next to a wooded area. When I toured the site they had broken ground, but had not yet started putting in the foundation. Additional site work is to be done for an earth tube that is planned to assist with temperature control. Earth tubes are hollow tubes buried in the ground that rely on the approximate 50deg earth temperature that will allow intake air to be pre-warmed or pre-cooled. If the outside air temperature is cooler than 50 degrees, it can be pulled through the tube to warm up on its way in. When the temperature is higher than 50deg the air can be pre-cooled if necessary for summer use. Care must be taken with the system design to prevent condensation that could affect indoor air quality.
While Tessa showed me the lot and pointed out where things were going to go she mentioned that the owner had named the design “the jewel box” because of the incredible amount of glass that Tessa had incorporated into the design. The views will be incredible. What is even more incredible from a Passive House perspective is that she was able to design with the large expanses of glass that will allow a lot of solar heat gain in the summer and more heat loss than an insulated wall in the winter and still meet Passive House requirements. By careful planning of the position of the house on the site, the position the windows would be in, the type of materials the windows would be made of, and designing the appropriate shading, she really accomplished something. If you look at the artist’s conception picture where you are looking uphill from the water towards the house, you can get the feeling for just how much light and windows there will be in this jewel of a Passive House.
I should point out another feature that Tessa designed into the project – it has the ability to grow by adding an additional floor on top of the one planned now. For this site, with the slope that is on it, taking that into consideration now will save the homeowners a lot of structural engineering down the road. It also makes good sustainable sense if you believe that there is a possibility to need additional square footage on any project to plan for how it will be incorporated into the existing structure in the future.
At this point on my West Coast Passive House tour I took a break to get ready for the North American Passive House Conference that was held in Portland at the beginning of November. Thursday I’ll post a bit about that. Now that I’m home the tour is not yet done – I get to visit projects in my backyard and show you what is going on in Washington. Stay tuned!