The Passive House Solution

I know something new. I know how to design and build homes that are dramatically better than any I’ve ever built. What I know is radically simple. It is systematically measurable and therefore proven. It …

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Design matters. When we learn to use all the tools in the design toolbox we discover more and make smarter choices.


Build better. Its time to make smart choices about how we build and the materials we choose to build with.


And energy sense. Our future literally depends on our ability to understand and use energy wisely.


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Open House for Farmington Net Zero Winner
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On Saturday October 4 from 11-3 you’re invited

to visit EnergizeCT’s 2013 CT Zero Energy Challenge Grand Prize Winner right here in Farmington.

Get directions at the end of this post.


Click to view a full size image of the house

What’s it like to live in a home that is actually producing significantly more energy than it uses? Come find out. As part of the 2014 National Solar Tour you’re invited to visit this delightful home and hear what its like to live there. Lisa Spalla and Mike Randich have put down new roots in a home of lasting beauty and award winning performance. Their home strikes the perfect balance between how much energy the house requires for all its operations and to be healthy and comfortable, and matching it with the “free” energy captured from the sun. It employs the intelligence of building science to integrate proven systems and technologies to assure this result. Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 7.17.59 PMBeyond that, this is a home that fits. It is aligned with the principles of the “not-so-big-house” which favors quality over quantities of space. It has a simple clean aesthetic that leaves room for select materials and a few special craft features to take the stage. Exterior finishes were chosen for long life and low maintenance. The interior features a nice balance of natural wood. Lower level floors are polished concrete. The whole place looks great! From the moment of arrival and entry, visiting in the kitchen, settling for a meal, or retreating to a quiet corner to spend time alone consideration is given to how each experience should connect with the other – or not! Each space looks great, works well, and feels good to be in.

NSBHDesigning and building a home like this takes a special kind of attention. It was designed and built by Wolfworks Inc. of Avon. Jamie Wolf, well known for his thoughtful design is a Certified Passive House Consultant. His work is featured in several of the “Not So Big House” books by Sarah Susanka. The plan he created was executed by Wolfworks Construction Coordinator Janet Downey by communicating the intent to subcontractors and product vendors and coordinating every detail as they came together layer upon layer. An architect by training with two decades experience building hundreds of custom homes Janet has a plan prepared and an answer ready as the daily challenges unfold. Since joining Wolfworks in 2010 Janet has mastered the emerging art of high performance home building and become a Certified Passive House Builder. Jamie and Janet also designed and built the 2012 CT Zero Energy Challenge Grand Prize winner in Harwinton.




  • There will be presentations at 11:30AM, 1:00, and 2:00PM
  • There will be guided tours between presentations.
  • To learn more about the CT Zero Energy Challenge visit


  • Simple, clean, open design oriented to the sun
  • European windows that gain more heat than they lose
  • Thick walls create attractive deep windowsills
  • A system that recovers heat from constant fresh air
  • A rooftop solar electric system that produces more energy than the house needs


  • The Passive House design principles that make high performance possible
  • How this building achieves Net Zero Energy and what that means


  • What it’s like to live in a Passive House year round
  • Why it is so comfortable (and so different from typical homes)
  • How much energy is being produced vs. what is being used and the net production that results


  • Homeowner: Mike Randich
  • From Wolfworks: Jamie Wolf (design) and Janet Downey (construction)

DIRECTIONS This home is at 17 Metacomet Road in Farmington, CT Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 7.56.24 PM


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Today’s modern home has to be resourceful, resilient, responsible, enduring, healthy, and comfortable. These features require careful, not cavalier use of space, a conscious relation with the land and the resources we rely on to live and build, a sense of stewardship about the building we care for, and a real recognition of how we use energy, and are therefor compelled to manage that use wisely.