Traditional Style Passivhaus Built in Ohio

SmartHome Cleveland at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History opened for tours earlier this month, making it the only public Passive House in the country.  We previewed the ultra-efficient abode a few months back and can now supplement our earlier coverage with these interior and exterior photos.

SmartHome will blend in with its future neighborhood, but don’t be fooled.  This home is different than most new and existing homes.  This home represents the future of energy-efficient housing and it will be open for visits through the end of this year, 2011.

SmartHome is projected to save at least 90% in heating and cooling costs compared to a traditional home.  To reach this level of supreme efficiency, it was carefully constructed with thick insulation, high-performance windows, and an airtight building envelope.  The wall section above illustrates the corner framing (that reduces thermal bridging), insulation layers, exterior wraps, and siding installation.

This isn’t a home with drafts, cold windows, or even heavy-duty heating and cooling equipment.  It’s airtight — the building envelope is virtually sealed — illustrating a phrase used in this type of construction: “Build tight, ventilate right.“  To keep air fresh and circulated, the 2,500 square-foot home has a heat recovery ventilator that extracts heat from air leaving the home.

SmartHome was designed by Chuck Miller of Doty & Miller Architects with Mark Hoberecht of HarvestBuild Associates making sure the design and construction adhered to Passive House standards.  When the exhibit is finished, SmartHome will be moved to a lot on Wade Park Avenue in University Circle and made available for purchase.  The word is it will probably be sold in the neighborhood of +$300,000.

Credits: © The Cleveland Museum of Natural History.


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  • Anonymous

    Thanks, the style is not a problem with passive house…different, if you want a passive and positive house.

    Very good blog :-)

  • http://bruteforcecollaborative.com/ mike eliason

     90% more efficient, or 90% more efficient w/ space heating – big difference. it’s near impossible to get a house 90% more efficient in total energy.

    • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

      Yeah, the materials I have say 90% more efficient, but it’s likely your later.  I’m following up on that.  

    • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

      Ended up clarifying that 90% as you pointed out.  

  • http://www.homeforsaleinottawa.com Ray Smiley

    It’s great to see the kind of work you’ve done to make the house more energy efficient. Keep up the good work. 

  • Anonymous

    Where’s the handicapped access?  Is that a ramp on the side, or a deck?  In this day and age, does a “traditional style” house really still need to sit so high above grade that it needs all those steps?

    • Heather W

      It does need to sit that high if you are planning to stick two huge beams under it in a couple months, pick the whole thing up and move it down the street into an urban neighborhood, and off the grounds of the museum.  

  • Arnold L Johnson

    If this house can be built for near 1/2 to 1/3 of the projected cost, this is a winner. It is not the degree of technology or engineering that matters. It’s making the repeatable results affordable for the present residents in the Cleveland area. This is true innovation. The problem with green technology on the home front has always been up front cost. You say cost savings in utilities and equipment yet recoup the potential savings in overall cost. So, less cost more, again.
    What’s the diff between a $1000+ monthly mortgage and a $600+ monthly mortgage with a $400+ utility bill. There is none, except for smaller carbon footprint. I can save more money by wearing a sweater in winter. I love this house, but the cost has got to come down.

    • Jayw2124

      If this house is 2500sf at $300,000 that is $120 a square foot.  Pretty dang good for new construction that is built to last, not just slapped up like typical suburban homes.  Your example on the mortage and energy cost being a wash is kind of short sighted…”there is none, except for smalle carbon footprint”.  Isn’t that the point, to conserve resources and create homes that will perform like a 21st century home should?  Geez, typical response to innovation.  Why don’t you go into a car dealership and look at the high end model and tell that salesman, “you know, that is a great car…if you just sold it to me for 1/2 the price”.  Obviously that car has higher components and is a better built item, just as Passive Houses…they don’t even compare to Joe the Builders 2×4 wall with fiberglass batt insulation and Menard’s windows.

  • Michael Gough

    This is certainly where the future of new home building and sales is going. Price will still be a deterrent for some still looking at their short term situation.

  • Doc

    While ALL Passive House projects should be applauded, I think that it is terrific that this project decided to do it with a “look” that most people would instantly recognize as a HOUSE.

    • Sclellen

      OWS got the same response…. who cares what it looks like ? It works. My issue is with the language. Just what does “passive home” mean anymore? It is as if the word has been” trade marked” and can only mean this kind of home that requires mechanical air circulation…24/7.

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