When we first profiled Anchorage Builders in 2010, they were in the construction phase of North Carolina’s first Passive House.  We followed up with the project in a subsequent post and were quite impressed with the completed home, both aesthetically and sustainably.  Building on this successful experience, Anchorage and architect Jay Fulkerson have recently collaborated on yet another Chapel Hill home designed with Passive House building methods.

Like it’s predecessor, this charming 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath bungalow uses dramatically less energy to heat and cool than a typical home, thanks to such features as:

  • 14.5” thick precast concrete walls (R-40)
  • 16” rafters (R-62)
  • Stained/polished concrete floors (R-20)
  • Triple-glazed Thermotech windows (R-7)
  • 95%-efficient UltimateAir ERV
  • Icynene and cellulose insulation
  • Wall-mounted, variable-speed Fujitsu 0.25-1.0 ton 25-SEER mini split
  • High-efficiency appliances include a non-vented Bosch condensing clothes dryer, Electrolux induction cooktop, and convection oven

Achieving Passive House certification is no easy feat, with strict metrics on heating and cooling loads, energy loss, and energy use. Intensive training and support from PHIUS (which governed the movement in the U.S. until recently) equips design professionals and builders with the ability to handle the additional challenges a Passive House must overcome.  Anchorage founder Chris Senior has advice for anyone interested in going the Passive House route:

Achieving certified PH is challenging but doable. It starts with involving the whole team, from the client and architect to the decorator and construction crew, right from the beginning of the design process.  Using the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP), we can calculate insulation needs and address air flow to ensure the home we are envisioning will meet strict Passive House standards.  Once construction is underway, the building team must be hyper-vigilant with the implementation of that plan.  Our job as the builder is to create the continuous air barrier and super insulate the home while avoiding leaky penetrations and thermal bridging.

Anchorage has another Passive House under construction in Pittsboro, in which the homeowner’s have been keeping a very informative blog about the building process.  Senior and his team relish the opportunity to perfect their technique. “The art is making this complex approach simple and affordable.  Repetition will hone our skills- but even now, there is little if any cost premium to our concrete PH’s!”

That’s good news for the movement here in the Unites States as it continues to gain momentum.  “These simple, low-load homes are the obvious future,” said Senior.

[+] More about this project at Anchorage Building Corp.

Credits: Anchorage Building Corp.