Chicago Area Getting it’s First ‘Passive’ House

September 20, 2012

green chicago new homeHere’s an interesting bit of news for Chicago new homes residents who are all about going green. River Forest will soon be the home of Chicago’s first “passive” house.

What is a passive house, exactly? It’s a house that is so tightly sealed and well-insulated there is no need for traditional heating or cooling equipment.

Though a passive home costs about 10 percent more to build than a traditionally constructed home, it only uses a quarter of the energy of a traditional home.

The River Forest passive house is designed by Tom Bassett-Dilley, president of the Passive House Alliance in Chicago. The home is 4,000 square-feet, built with layers of foam and concrete and has wood composite cladding. The exterior of the passive house will look like most other houses in the neighborhood, since passive homes do not necessarily look different compared to other homes because their unique features tend to be hidden.

Solar panels will be used to generate enough energy to heat water and small heat pumps will bring warm air into the home during winter. In the summer months, warm air will be pulled from the home to keep it cool. The best part of this energy saving feature? The pumps only cost $2 per month to run.

In addition to the River Forest home, other green home technologies can be found throughout the Chicago area. Windy City Habit for Humanity plans on constructing 16 affordable homes during the next three years that will meet U.S. Energy Star Standards. William Scholtens, the founder of Elements Architectural Group Inc. is designing a “deep energy retrofit” home that will replace 1960s energy-related features with more more modern, sustainable ones.

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