Passive House, or Passivhaus design is finally becoming really active in North America, and is popping up in communities across the country. Just recently we showed a traditional one in Oregon, but are back to form with the R-House, the winner of a design competition "provide a new model for formerly vital, urban residential neighborhoods throughout the United States through the creation of sustainable, affordable housing."
It is under construction now in the Near Westside neighborhood of Syracuse. The architect writes:
R-House presents an affordable, innovative paradigm for minimal to net-zero energy consumption embodied in architecture that is meant to nurture the spirit and engage the community as much as it is meant to perform in terms of cost and sustainability. Wrapped within its iconic exterior are expansive and luminous spaces that require only the equivalent energy of a hair dryer for heating. This efficient plan can be tailored to meet the needs of different families and is readily adaptable as these needs change over time.
This wonderful drawing provides a great graphic description of the Passivhaus:
1) Provide a big heat recovery ventilator to bring in fresh air without losing too much heat;
2) Design with carefully placed windows and thermal mass in the floors for passive heating;
3) Wrap it in a ton of insulation and seal it very carefully.
More images at Designboom and Della Valle Bernheimer
More on Passive House Design or Passivhaus Design:
Forget Energy Star and LEED, Green Building is Passivhaus
Passive Design and Passive House Mean Two Different Things
Passivhaus in the New York Times
Passivhaus: Too Rigid and Inflexible for America?
Passive Houses Get Good Graphic Explanation
A Passiv Haus in Urbana, Illinois