|Littlewolf Architecture - Passive House Design -
Northeast Region, New England, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut -
Berkshires (Berkshire) Architect, Columbia County Architect, Litchfield County Architect|
What is Passive House?
Passive House is a design process that minimizes building energy consumption. It is a system that has been developed and tested in Europe (Passivhaus) for over 10 years with great success in energy savings and homeowner satisfaction. Passive House designed homes are extremely resource efficient, comfortable, and healthy.
What are the basic features of Passive House?
Passive House sets specific targets for the heating & cooling demand, based on the treated floor area. High levels of insulation are required for cold climates to keep the heat in. Very tight construction is required to minimize heat loss and air movement through the envelope. Controlled fresh air supply is required for occupant health and comfort. These features create a home in which the internal temperature is consistantly healthy and comfortable. Following best construction practice, the risk of condensation, mold, and other building failures is essentially eliminated.
How does Passive House compare with typical construction or green building?
There are many aspects to 'sustainable' or 'green' building design including site/orientation; material use and recycling; energy & water conservation; reduction of CO2 footprint; and indoor air quality. Passive House focuses on energy use, thus forming a cornerstone of best design and building practice. All the decisions that go into creating an efficient plan, good solar orientation and shading, super-insulation, super-tight construction, fresh ventilation air - are essential to Passive House and are reflected in the hard data of a specific energy budget for heating, cooling and ventilation. When compared to 'building to code' Passive House design can reduce energy consumption by up to 80%.
What about solar power, geothermal, passive solar and other alternative energy sources?
Passive House concentrates on reducing the primary energy demand. It is common sense to reduce the energy demand as much as possible, and take advantage of free solar radiation, prior to installing expensive alternative energy systems. Passive House applies this approach in a rigorous manner. Building orientation, local solar and climate data, heat gain through windows, and the necessity of summer shading are all factored into the energy demand. With Passive House design, if and when photovaltaics and solar hot water systems are added, they will be smaller units and have a greater impact due to the super efficiency of the building envelope.
OK, all of this sounds great. But how much is it going to cost, and what about my existing home?
Super-insulation, air-tightness, high performance windows, mechanical ventilation - all have an increased up-front cost compared to 'baseline' construction. But the benefits are enormous: less energy use over the lifetime of your home; a healthy and comfortable indoor environment; reduced mechanical systems and maintenance. These benefits will only compound as utility and fossil fuel costs increase. Deep Energy Retrofits apply these same principles to existing homes undergoing major renovations (i.e. new siding & windows). Passive House upgrades can also be phased-in over time. The key is a planning strategy that allows for future upgrades without compromising work already done.
I want to know more about Passive House
I want to know more about Littlewolf Architecture
Littlewolf Architecture is a northeast regional practice located in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts. Our primary focus is new home design, renovations and additions. All project types provide the opportunity to create beautiful and "green" sustainable living environments. Much of our work is set in the natural and rural Berkshire, Columbia, and Litchfield County landscapes, and we take our design cues from there. Of vital importance is the sequence of approach, entry, and movement through a home that creates a narrative of daily use. A strong and meaningful connection to the outdoors is essential whether the home is set in the woods, fields, or within the town. A neighborhood provides a reference, yet the environment of sun, sky, and ground provide timeless compass points for design. The integrity of architecture lies in gathering together the environmental, practical, and personal influences on a project, and creating a balanced design.
Commodity & Sustainability
Small is beautiful and the jacket needs to fit well. Custom home design requires tailoring a project to a particular dweller, program and site, yet providing a general adaptability for a long project life. The process begins with drawing simple layouts and adjacencies, rooms for gathering and privacy, organizing features and good spatial flow. The design should provide for movement and repose, for reaching into the environment, and for protected shelter. Solar orientation, topography, context, and the microclimate must be considered to create a balance of view, daylight, shading, and heat retention. A well-built shell comes next with super-insulation, high-R windows, air-sealing, and ventilation. We take a holistic approach to passive and active heating and cooling factors, emphasizing the integration of building systems to create a comfortable and healthy New England home.
When it comes to material and detail, Architecture is a craft honed by the act of making things. Our approach is grounded in the understanding of building techniques, coupled with a spirit of invention. Natural and simple materials connect us to the earth and history: wood, stone, metal, glass. Environmentally preferable products are less energy-intensive to create, and are less detrimental to future generations and the planet. Natural building methods offer the extreme approach of treading lightly on the earth. Durability and ease of maintenance are important for all projects. We have a healthy appreciation for conventional construction, as well as for more advanced and sustainable practices.
Studio Culture - Affordable Design
Littlewolf Architecture is committed to the concept of 'kaizen', or the constant improvement of our craft. We look intently at the fundamental details of construction in a continuous process of design and refinement. We integrate green strategies and building science practices into the natural course of design. Simple 3D CAD modeling is used for all projects. Energy modeling can also be used to project energy use for various design scenarios. The approach of constant refinement applies to our services as well. Templates for project delivery provide a range of services that can be tailored to specific project needs. For the DIY-homeowner on a budget, a simple design and set of drawings for permit is enough. For more creative projects a high level of detail is appropriate, including interiors, cabinetry, and site visits throughout construction. We also cultivate relationships with associated professionals here in the Berkshires to provide services beyond our own scope of practice.