Remember when we were kids and discovered the cool effect you got when mixing vinegar and baking soda? It was like we discovered the secret to making our own Volcano. It’s been many a year since I made a baking soda Volcano with my own kids, and now I get to put the old lab coat on once again and mess with science (or make a mess of science!) Either way, you can follow along in this new series “Putting Passive House to the Test!”.
I recently bought a small lot on a lake in a Marine 4 climate. There are actual Temperate Rainforests in the area and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find out my lot could be considered one too. I have one shed that is almost toppled over from the weight of the moss on top. The other two buildings have molded and all will be demolished soon to make way for new buildings. Since I don’t want to worry that my new buildings will suffer from the same fate as the old ones I wanted to try all the science that I had at my disposal – the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP), the 2d heat transfer modeling program THERM, and the moisture migration software called WUFI as well as monitoring devices to plan my project well.
Since unusual climates have garnered some attention in the Passive House community I wanted to find a way to make my project into a test bed so that we could all learn something together. Because of that I will be inviting anyone with an opinion or question about Passive House to join in the discussion and make comments or suggestions to these articles. I will be designing and having built a Recreational Travel Trailer and two small out buildings. I want to use Passive House principles in their designs and monitor them for moisture. Because they are all small I don’t know if they will meet Passive House criteria, but I am certainly going to try! I want to use the usual materials and some unusual materials or products to give those a chance to be tested as well.
As I design and make choices I will be discussing them here in the Small Planet Workshop Passive House blog. I’ll tell you what I’m doing, why I make the choices I do, and about the different materials and methods I am considering. The first project will be the travel trailer and I already have some material ideas – vacuum panel insulation the Small Planet Workshop wants to test out, and a really cool HRV that the guys at http://www.foursevenfive.com/ carry. One of the small buildings will also be designed with another new product that the Small Planet Workshop wants to try out (Albert is always looking for those good products for y’all!) I’ll tell you about that when we get to that building’s design.
The other small building will be one I want the Passive House Community itself to design. We’ll be building each wall, ceiling, or floor section from different assemblies so that we can test as many options as possible. This is where I want you to put your thinking cap on. Is there a wall system or product that you would like to see used in a Passive House construction to see how it performs? Tell me about it. We’ll gather all the suggestions and recommendations together and take into consideration all the reasons people give for the items or methods they are curious about so that we can answer as many questions as possible. Start posting them as comments here as soon as possible!
I’m sure this will be more fun than a baking soda volcano, and hopefully the excitement will get the Passive House community talking and sharing ideas while I mess with science and help me NOT make a mess of science!
Up Next – Designing the trailer.