Take a moment to get a glimpse inside the mind of a Passive House Architect.
Have you ever wanted to get the insiders perspective on what makes their project unique and what they find to be the most impressive features? We were lucky enough to snag some time with David Peabody, the lead architect on the Passive House in Bethesda, MD. Here is what he had to say about his beautiful, functional new passive design work.
GreenGobbler: We would love to know from your perspective what the most impressive parts of this home are?
David Peabody: What makes the house on North Chelsea Lane impressive is not just that it will use 10% of the heating and cooling energy of a standard house. Its real impressiveness is in the fact that an architect with a few weeks of training and a good contractor could build it using standard construction materials at a cost increase of less than 10% over standard construction. The Passive House program makes state of the art methodologies and modeling software accessible for architects and builders. As the costs of energy rise, and as these houses become more common, I believe that this approach will be commonplace within 5 years.
GG: What has been the most challenging in the build process, and what has been the most satisfying for you as the team lead?
DP: The most challenging architectural piece was in development of a completely new set of standard construction details for our houses. Luckily, I only have to do that once for this construction system. The most challenging piece in the construction process was reaching the airtightness requirement. That required careful work on the part of all the subs: concrete, SIP, mechanical, electrical and plumbing. We learned that infrared imaging is indispensable in completing the process. For when we got the house under pressure, it was the IR camera that identified the remaining leaks which needed patching before we got to the .6ACH at 50 Pascale.
DP: Plan everything ahead. Work with people who have done it before and you will be well up on the learning curve.
GG: Why do you think Passive design is just now becoming a player in residential design in the US?
DP: It has only reached mainstream construction in Europe, where it originated, in the last five years or so. And we are a bit behind them. Obstacles have been: it’s foreign; it requires changing the way we do things; the bad reputation of the super-insulated houses of the 70′s. Once people see that these houses can look normal and be built very close to market costs, they will become more common. Rising energy costs will determine the speed of acceptance.
Many thanks to David Peabody for taking the time to discuss his wonderful project. For more information, keep your eyes on our site, and we’ll continue to update you on the progress of this passive home in Bethesda, Maryland.