Chicago’s First Passive House Just Completed in River Forest

May 09, 2013
Chicago passive house

Credit: Weiss Building & Development

Chicago’s first Certified Passive House has been completed by Weiss Building & Development. This is the 28th Passive House in the U.S., and it shows how efficient a home can be without the necessity of expensive equipment.

Architect and Certified Passive House Consultant Tom Bassett of Dilley Architects designed the 3,600 square foot home in River Forest. The homeowners of this Passive House decided to build a home of this nature because the house they wanted did not exist on the market. They wanted a home that was healthy, comfortable, efficient, super durable and concrete.

Passive House is the world’s most stringent energy efficiency certification. The certification was founded in 1988 by Dr. Wolfgang Feist, and the first “passiv haus” was built in Darmstadt, Germany in 1990. Since then, more than 30,000 certified projects have been completed in Europe.

A passive house is designed to maximize gains and minimize losses; it is super insulated and virtually airtight. It uses 90 percent less energy to heat and cool than a code-built home, and 70 to 80 percent less total energy. It utilizes high quality windows with the correct glazing u-factor and solar heat gain coefficients to actually become net energy gainers over the year versus an energy waster. The added insulation and attention to detail is more expensive than a code built home’s insulation, but the price tag on the mechanical systems in a Passive house saves up to $30,000. Not only is there the upfront savings on this mechanical equipment, but there are much fewer moving parts, which means much less maintenance costs and headaches. A passive house spends more money on non-moving parts that equate to a higher quality home, and decreases HVAC or solar electric systems costs. Even if the goal is a net zero energy home, a passive house will get you there with less expense because insulation is much cheaper than solar PV panels. It is a conservation first approach to construction.

Besides greatly increasing efficiency, Passive Houses also ensures comfort. Based on the fact that there is virtually no air leakage, there is no “stack effect” in the home. Temperatures are consistent through the home with no drafts. There is no forced air heating and cooling in the home, and there are no noisy mechanicals.  The energy recovery ventilation system is silent, making the home comfortable in terms of feel and sound. The super-efficient windows and insulation also block out virtually all outside noise.

For more information on energy-efficient Chicago real estate trends, explore our site.

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