First U.S. “Passive” House Built in Urbana, Illinois

May 18, 2009
Passive Home: Smith House

Passive Home: Smith House

Energy efficiency is often thought of as the primary component and often is over-emphasized in buying a green home.  Using a “whole house” approach in green building includes, lot selection, home orientation, design, material usage and selection, engineered mechanical systems and sustainable finishes.   A passive style home is taking all factors the extreme.  The Smith House in Urbana, Illinois designed by Karin Klingenberg, a German born architect who visited a passive house in Hanover Germany, sought to build the first one in the United States.  Inspired by Germany’s Passivhaus Insitut’s energy standards design software, Klingenberg was able to design and construct the modest central Illinois home that uses a fraction of the energy to heat and cool a typical American home.

A passive home is a residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 4,755 Btu per square foot, a maximum annual cooling energy use of 1.39 kWh per square foot, and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 11.1 kWh per square foot.  The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates.

The challenge in building the Smith House not only included energy performance but cost-effective practices as well.  While the home still came in at a higher than average $94 per square foot, the goal of creating a model for affordable housing using sustainable materials, efficiency and indoor air comfort performed to the long-term investment envisioned.   It is also understood that as these practices become more of the norm in the industry, the costs will come down with time.  Buying Chicago Green Homes will be the future of the industry that will become part of many northern areas energy and material codes.  The new home and housing market experts today see this niche as an avenue for builders to pursue in today’s tough residential market.

See the Green Building Advisor article here.

About The Author

Read All Stories By Mitch Levinson

Mitch Levinson is the author of “Internet Marketing: The Key to Increased New Home Sales” published by BuilderBooks. He is an Internet marketing expert with expertise in search engine optimization, website development, email marketing, social media and CRM consulting services. He is known for creating effective programs that can be tracked through analytics to prove effectiveness and ROI. Mitch is founder and president of MLC New Home Marketing and MLC FlatFee Realty, as well as managing partner of mRELEVANCE, LLC, a Marketing, Communication, Interactive agency with offices in Chicago and Atlanta. He currently leads the Chicago team. A Multi-Million Dollar Sales Producer who earned an MBA in Computer Information Systems and eCommerce, he brings a unique perspective and experience to the field of real estate communications. Mitch combines the two interests in order to help home builders and developers gain a competitive advantage through the Internet and technology. When he isn’t behind a computer, he enjoys participating in sports and coaching his kids’ teams. Mitch resides in Arlington Heights, Ill., a northwest suburb of Chicago, with his family, which includes two rambunctious labs. Visit my Google+ profile.

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