This will be the first certified Passive House in the city limits of Salt Lake City (not to take anything away from the Breezeway House located outside the city in Salt Lake County), if certification by PHIUS goes as planned. I visited the home on a nice sunny day a couple weeks ago, but the photos of this beginning photographer didn’t turn out as I’d originally expected.* That said, I hope you can get a feeling for the contemporary design and some of the materials and technology that went into this ultra-efficient home.

Ruby House, located in a historic district in the Avenues, was designed by Brach Design Architecture (Dave Brach) and built by Benchmark Modern (Garth Hare), who you may recall, depending on how long you’ve been a reader, also built the Maryfield House.

Homes in the Avenues can be colorful or aged, or some combination of the two, and I think it’s safe to say that a boxy modern home just wouldn’t be welcome by many. Yet I think Brach was able to deliver a contemporary, energy efficient design while still respecting what’s going on in the neighborhood.

The owners agreed, “[Dave] optimized the placement of our house to take advantage of natural lighting, surrounding views, while maintaining privacy. Dave also considered and respected the surrounding architecture of the historic neighborhood and worked closely with the historic landmark commission to obtain approval of the plans,” according to a testimonial on Brach’s site.

For the Passive House geeks, you may interested to know what’s inside: a Zehnder Comfoair 350 HRV, Fujitsu air-to-air heat pumps (7kBtu upstairs and 9kBtu main level), a AO Smith high-efficiency water heater, Verve lighting controls, and Energate 1202 windows.

The build includes Logix ICF foundation walls, Senergy EIFS stucco, Old Virginia Brick thin bricks in Chatham Gray, Accoya cladding, Certainteed dense-pack fiberglass insulation, exterior EPS foam, and a white vinyl roof. There’s also an abundance of rich wood detail including maple stair treads, rift-sawn oak cabinets, maple veneer MDF ceiling, maple flooring and door trim, and a front and back porch soffit of marine-grade mahogany plywood.

It’s really a handsome green home. Architect Brach said to me, “I do believe this is something downtown Salt Lake City and the avenues historic district can be proud of,” and I can say first hand that I definitely agree.

[+] More photos of the Ruby House at Dave Brach Architecture.

*I have a new DSLR that I’m trying to learn how to use, particularly with indoor photos. I’m reading all sorts of material to take better shots in the future.  Don’t hate the project for my photos! – Photo credits: