Here is a Pretty Good Idea for a New Building Standard: The Pretty Good House.

An old house from an old book that I thought was pretty good/Public Domain

There are so many standards out there these days that the last thing one would think that is needed is yet another one. But the established ones don't appear to satisfy anyone really; the Passivhaus movement is in crisis, and many think that it is too tough; just recently I wrote that the LEED standard was perhaps too easy and promoted the wrong things. But now, there is a lot of discussion going on about what would make a house that is green and efficient but not cost-prohibitive, that would adapt to climate, that would be healthy and comfortable. They call it the Pretty Good House. The key points come down to:

Local materials, plenty of insulation, and not many square feet.

The idea appears to have started with builder Dan Kolbert at Steve's Garage, a discussion group at Green Building Advisor. Allison Bailes writes that it has:

...struck a chord with a lot of us who design, build, or verify green homes. The growing complexity and expense of green building and energy programs has led to growing frustration. Wouldn't it be great if we could list just a handful of measures that a home builder has to achieve to build a Pretty Good House?

There are some pretty good ideas in this about what a house should be. They include:

  • Support the local economy, using local labour and materials wherever possible.
  • Test it to make sure that it delivers on the promises that have been made.
  • Have minimal and/or reasonable operating costs.
  • Lots of insulation but not Passivhaus crazy. (more on this in a later post)
  • Small square footage: "Measure 1000-1500-1750-1875. These number are probably not as obvious; they represent an allotment of square feet of living space for 1, 2, 3, and 4+ inhabitants, respectively. It could be less — the national average is much more — but as a group we thought this was… pretty good."

There is lots more by Michael Maines at the Green Building Advisor in Part 1 and Part 2, and no doubt a lot more to come.

This is a story worth watching; a passivhaus builder suggested that it "could be the beginning of a potential paradigm shift".

As a matter of course I have to point out that location matters, and do hope they consider adding in the concept of a Pretty Good Location in a Pretty Good Community.

More at Green Building Advisor

Tags: Green Building | Maine | passive house