At H-haus, sustainability is not an optional checkbox, rather it is a deeply ingrained principle that impacts our use of design to solve challenges. It drives our process and defines the attributes of every project.
Energy. Our firm is committed to designing all our homes and buildings to use at least a minimum of 50% less energy. We also help clients reach higher levels of aggressive performance standards, such as a hybrid combination of “Passivehaus/Net-zero” guidelines, the firm’s expertise.
Air Quality. Maintaining positive indoor air quality is vital to occupant health. We select materials that minimize pollutants and design ventilation systems to ensure a constant supply of fresh outdoor air.
Water. Points of use, including bathrooms and kitchens, combine beauty and functionality in a design that enables water efficiency. Options are available for water conservation, capture, and reuse.
Maintenance and Durability. Most building failures (whether peeling paint, mold growth, or rot) are a result of moisture-related infiltration into the building. We design the building envelope assembly for optimum management of heat, air, water, and moisture flow, helping ensure long-term durability with minimal maintenance.”
On-Site Waste Water Treatment (Option). H-haus homes that are off-grid or in areas with no access to public wastewater utilities, offer on-site wastewater treatment (aerobic/bio-filter) systems which will treat household wastewater to grey water standard, which can be re-used for sub-surface irrigation purposes, i.e green roofs, leaching fields, etc.
Start with Smart Design
Use Energy Modeling. During the design phase, the home’s energy use is estimated using energy modeling software to ensure that the goal of Passivehaus/net zero energy will be achieved while keeping costs down. Based on the results, design choices are made or modified to balance building performance and construction cost.
Super-Seal the Building Envelope. Super-sealing the building envelope is the single most cost-effective measure H-haus makes to improve the energy efficiency of a Passivehaus/net-zero energy home.
Super-Insulate the Building Envelope. After making the house airtight, super insulating the house is the most cost-effective strategy when we create a net-zero energy house. Energy modeling, as mentioned in step 2, above, helps us optimize the insulation levels for the roof (R-65), walls (R-48) and floor/slab (R-50), and minimize thermal bridging.
Heat Water Wisely. Water heating is often the largest energy expense in a zero energy home after heating and cooling. H-haus utilizes a solar (thermal) system to generate all the domestic hot water, the hot water for the in-floor radiant heating system and the outside hot-tub (heat sink). These systems are standard with the H-Haus home, as Package 1.
Use Highly Insulated Windows and Doors. Windows and doors are like big energy holes in a well-insulated, airtight building envelope and are the third most cost-effective strategy for making a home energy efficient. Control window and door heat loss and gain H-Haus incorporates triple insulating glass, low-e coated with heat mirror film and krpyton gas fill (R-20). The exterior doors are of solid hardwood (i.e. red oak) sandwich with a 2 inch rigid insulation (R-19).
Use the Sun for Solar Tempering. We try to maximize the use of the sun for heating through south facing (if possible) were optimal location of the windows lowers heating costs during the winter. Shading those same windows in summer lowers cooling costs. Solar tempering is a cost effective way to optimize this passive use of the sun’s heat, without incurring the added cost of thermal mass needed to achieve maximum passive solar heating.
Create An Energy Efficient And Fresh Air Supply. Since the H-haus Passivehaus/net-zero energy house is so airtight, a continuous source of fresh filtered air and moisture control are critical to its success. This need for ventilation has a silver lining: net-zero energy homes are healthier and more comfortable than standard homes. Highly energy efficient ventilation systems, known as heat recovery ventilation (HRV) systems or energy recovery ventilation (ERV) systems expel stale air while recovering its heat and returning that same heat to the home with the fresh air.
Select an Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling System. Highly-efficient, cost-effective, heating and cooling systems are essential to meeting the Passivehaus/net-zero energy goal. H-haus incorporates a high efficiency cold climate air-to-water heat pump to supply the heating and cooling through the in-floor radiant or an individual room in-wall or “n-floor fan coil units, for a forced air system, working in conjunction with an HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator), standard, which will move fresh air throughout the house. The system is highly efficient and does not have the shortcomings of central, forced-air systems.
Install Energy Efficient Lighting. Minimizing energy use for lighting, while optimizing light for the home owners, is an important feature of Passivehaus/net-zero energy homes. LED lights are used to achieve this feature. They are more energy efficient than CFLs, last many years longer, and contain no mercury. In addition, they can meet a variety of lighting needs from very bright white light to soft, warm light. Selecting the right LED lights for the task, locating lights strategically, and utilizing natural light as effectively as possible can drastically reduce a home’s energy use.
Select Energy Efficient Appliances and Electronics. In a typical Passivehaus/net-zero energy home just over 20% of the home’s energy use is accounted for by heating, cooling and hot water, while appliances and plug loads may account for up to 60% of the load. Thus, selecting energy efficient appliances and managing “phantom” plug loads for electronics is essential. Phantom loads are hard to find and continue to draw energy unseen, day and night whether or not the devices are being used. Several homes that were modeled and built to Passivehaus/net-zero energy standards have ended up not meeting Passivehaus/net-zero energy requirements in practice because of the unanticipated energy waste caused by “phantom” plug loads on electronics.
Use the Sun for Renewable Energy.
PACKAGE 1— Solar (thermal) panels are standard with all home models. They are incorporated into the house design for domestic hot water production, in-floor or in-floor diffuser/fan coil units, and outdoor thermal pool heating. Please Note: There are government subsidies available for these types of alternative energy systems, as outlined above. This is the most cost-effective form of renewable energy for a Passivehaus/net-zero energy home. A high performance cold climate, air-to-water heat pump is used to supplement (back-up) hot water generation, when not enough solar hot water is generated by the solar system. The heat pump provides the additional (back-up) hot water heating, in addition providing chilled water to the in-floor tubing or fan coil unit system to provide cooling when the system goes into the cooling mode.
PACKAGE 2—Incorporates all the components of Package 1 with the addition to grid-tied solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. The PV panels will provide 10 kw of electricity. The PV panels will power all the energy needs of a home including the heat pump (heating/cooling) system. Any excess electrical energy gets net-metered back to the utility during the day. The utility pays you the client for said energy.
Please note: For clients who desire a home to be totally “off-grid,” not tied to the utility, a back-up electrical generator and battery storage system is available as an option.