The Passive House Solution

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Did you miss it? We all learned a lot at the Net Zero Open House
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This past weekend about sixty people came out in the rain to see, touch, and feel how different a future friendly home is from the homes most of us live in. The grand prize winner’s of the 2013 CT Zero Energy Challenge opened their doors, led tours, and shared in our presentation of what makes these homes so inviting AND so different from the homes of the past.

Here is a summary of what both of us learned from each other over the course of this stimulating event. Let’s start with what our audience learned and experienced:


  • The homes that most of us live in were designed for curb appeal and organized according to the ways people lived when they were built. How we live today is often at odds with these floor plans.
  • They paid little attention to the energy they relied on and as a consequence were cavalier about energy performance. It was never a factor in their design.
  • This resulted in homes that were drafty and unpredictably comfortable. Temperatures varied from room to room and fresh air was uncontrolled and too dry, too humid, or too stuffy to feel good. They fall short in providing comfort and health.
  • The energy our homes rely on are a load we are committed to carrying on and on, year after year. The ways in which we measure our use offer us little control. We set the thermostat and pay the bill. They commit us to escalating costs.
  • The energy our homes rely on are doing damage to our environment and compromising our climate. Their dependance on large quotients of energy lock in a destructive pattern.
  • These are the experiences that provoked the owner of this home to search for something better, and how he found Wolfworks.


  • We have learned a new method of building that is fundamentally different than how we designed and built the homes of the past.
  • By orienting a building toward the “free energy” we receive from the sun, building a shell that retains heat like a thermos, capturing free energy thru windows that preserve more energy than they lose, creating a stable interior temperature, and making the building air tight but providing balanced ventilation that sustains health, we can meet our heating and cooling requirements with the equivalent of a couple blow dryers.
  • By reducing our other energy uses for lighting, appliances, household equipment, and hot water production we can fully satisfy all these needs with a rooftop solar array that provides all the energy we require on an annual basis. This is the definition of “net zero.”
  • The owner of this home explained how the experience of living in this home confirms the qualities of comfort, health, durability, safety, and security. They are outperforming the predicted energy production of their PV system and will be able to fully power their home, and have enough left over to power an electric vehicle. Pretty impressive.
  • This home is not only remarkable in the way it performs, it is delightful to live in. Folks who toured the home were impressed with the design and the craft. It is built with practical function and lasting beauty, not just remarkable energy performance. It’s not just “net zero,” it’s “net better!”


  • As we toured the house after sharing the story of its creation everyone said in one way or another, “there is nothing like being able to see and feel the space, and how it all fits together.” It is beautifully crafted and it shows.
  • Everybody is pretty amazed at how small the heating and cooling system is (one duct on each floor) and how even the temperature is.
  • I think they were even more interested in the “lungs” of the home. The heat recovery ventilation system provides constant filtered fresh air without exhausting precious heat. We were all silent for a moment and could hardly hear it running.
  • Over and over we heard this, “Why isn’t every home being built like this?” The answers to this question range from “the land of steady habits” and reluctance to change to the way in which realtors and banks have not produced a method to establish the “value” these homes represent. That is changing, gradually but inevitably.
  • In talking to folks who would like to create a home like this or transform the one they live in I realized that one of the most important things we help people do is discover a path to follow and help them keep moving along it. “A journey begins with the decision to act,” and we often meet people at their “action impasse.” Sound familiar?


For those who missed this event, download the handout about future friendly homes and the data about this remarkable home.

Discover What's Next Download

Download the Open House Handout


We are about to set a date for our next Open Wall Open House. We are really excited about this Deep Energy Retrofit of a post war Cape in Farmington that will – wait for it… be a NET ZERO home. That’s pretty cool!

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Open House for Farmington Net Zero Winner
Open House for Farmington Net Zero Winner

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Oh, Behave!

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