Passive House in Lenox

The client wanted to build a small, affordable house for herself that would meet the energy performance standards of the International Passive House Institute.

The site was open to surrounding fields, offering views and ample solar access. The topography of the land allowed positioning of the house in a way created a basement walkout.  This allowed us to design a small house yet also provide space for future expansion of the living areas.

The basic plan, which has 1350 sf of living space, was a simple rectangle for economy.  Within this, the interior space was designed with a central living area that is open to the upper level of the house.  A number of spaces open onto this central living space giving the house a sense of spaciousness.

A variety of sustainable design strategies were used:

  • The building envelope used R50 double wall construction, R60 truss roof framing, triple glazed tilt/turn windows, and high performance breathable vapor barrier.
  • Glazing was maximized on the south facade and minimized on the north facade. Fixed horizontal sunshades were installed at the first floor south facing windows. The roof overhang shades second story south facing windows. The roof angle and orientation were designed for optimizing solar photovoltaic panels (which the owner installed after the initial completion of the house.)
  • Mechanical systems included split system heat pumps and an Air Pahoda whole house heat exchanger for fresh air.
  • Temperature and humidity sensors were installed after construction for remote monitoring and evaluation of the house performance.

The general contractor was Chris Lee of GreenCore Builders.  Ed May of BLDGtyp was the Passive House Consultant.