The Art and Science of Passive House
What exactly is a passive home? In short, a passive home must be fine-tuned to be as comfortable, sustainable and environmentally conscious as possible. Passive-home design centers around streamlined efficiency, involving construction practices that can drastically reduce energy consumption and help create a carbon-neutral world. Passive homes aim to be so efficient that they produce as much renewable energy as they use from the electrical grid over the course of a year. Depending on the level of efficiency, some homes may actually have an energy bill of nearly zero.
To be considered a passive home, the structure must meet certain criteria: airtightness, renewable energy systems, substantial insulation, ventilation, waterproofing and minimal electrical loads. Passive homes are built with low-emission materials, moisture regulation and sophisticated ventilation that allows fresh air to circulate while maintaining finely calibrated climate control.
To dispel a couple of myths: No, living in an airtight home does not feel like you’re living in a bubble, and yes, you can open the windows. It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to live in a sleek modern box to reap the benefits of passive-home science. Nick Falkoff, founder of Auburndale Builders, has worked on many old New England homes in his career, demonstrating that it’s also possible to retrofit historic homes while preserving the integrity of the building. Nick and his team balance performance and aesthetics, blending their state-of-the-art solutions into every style of home. Perhaps the most beautiful thing about this technology is that, for the most part, it’s unseen.
Air-tight, triple-glazed windows are an example of the invisible science involved in a passive home. Although he laughs while telling the story, Falkoff isn’t joking when he boasts that a cat was curled up against a window of one of his builds on a bitter cold day. Anyone who owns a cat or an old home in New England knows this is quite a testament to the comfort level this type of home can provide.
Since Falkoff founded Auburndale Builders in 2005, the company has built and remodeled some of the first high-performance, net-zero and passive homes in the Metro West area. With a passion for community growth and development, Falkoff also co-founded of SHPDC (Studio for High Performance Design and Construction studiohpdc.org), a non-profit organization focused on providing education and training resources for the design and construction industry, including classes, workshops, and reference materials. SHPDC will be offering training classes and workshops with certified teachers, for architects, designers, project managers and homeowners.
Visit www.auburndalebuilders.com/office for more information.