Scott Passive House

Location
Albany, NY
Size
2,125 sqft
Status
Complete
Years
2016

 

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STORY


DESCRIPTION

The Scott Passive House was designed by a Pennsylvania-based architecture firm focused on energy efficient design and fabricated by an off-site construction firm in Maine that manufactures, delivers and assembles high-performance buildings. Homeowner Elizabeth Scott worked with the architect to customize her own version of the firm’s existing line of prefabricated Passive House designs. This provided the confidence of a proven building system with a design that met her own specifications and needs
Scott Passive House Sketch
The project is a continuation of a familial legacy in sustainable living for Scott. A jewelry artist, Scott grew up in a “post and beam passive solar house” that her parents built in 1979 with legendary builder Bruce Brownell, a pioneer in low energy residential design. Her Passive House is assembled on an 8.7-acre lot adjacent to the 23-acre lot where her parent’s home still sits. Passive House takes advantage of super-insulated walls, internal heat gains and the sun shining through well-situated windows to produce the highest level of interior comfort available in a building today. Regardless of the weather outside in Scott’s town in upstate New York, this approach to home building reduces energy consumption by 80 to 90 percent compared to conventional homes. Scott’s original plan involved building a small, 800 square foot Passive House along with a detached building to be used as her workspace. The prefabricated model featured two bedrooms and two bathrooms, but Elizabeth desired more living space in addition to the workshop. After consulting with the architect, she decided that a larger (2,125 square foot) model was more practical and a better investment. To expand design options and cost-effectively increase living space, the team decided to add a Passive Roof assembly to Elizabeth’s home. The roof employs the same healthy, high performance materials as the Passive Walls and reclaims living space typically dedicated to the attic. Elizabeth’s customized Passive House is one and a half stories and features four bathrooms and three bedrooms.

DESIGN

Spending her childhood in a home that took advantage of solar gains using a wall of windows and twice as much insulation as a typical home, Elizabeth always knew that she would one day build an energy efficient home of her own. She learned about the Passive House standard and originally planned on building in 2009, but after realizing there were limited options available in the United States decided to wait until building alternatives improved. “After growing up in my parent’s passive solar house, I always felt that it was too bad that the passive solar building technology did not develop further in the United States, until recently,” says Scott. “I was ecstatic to find this line of prefabricated Passive Houses employed 21st century building technology and quality materials, like foam-free, dense packed cellulose insulation. I was even more convinced that it had been worth my wait when I began working with my architect to customize the design of my home.” Elizabeth worked with the architect over a six-week period to customize her home. From there, computerized building models automatically provided instructions to the manufacturer’s saw and production line where the panelized wall and roof components were created, a four to six-week process. Once fabricated, the panels were shipped to the site, which had been prepared for assembly. Upon delivery, the design team and construction crew worked with local building partners to assemble Scott’s Passive House – a two-week process. After setting the panels and installing the roof for a weather and air-tight fit, blower door tests were performed to ensure that the building met the rigorous Passive House air tightness standard. The home was then ready for the local builder partner to take over, installing the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and interior/exterior finishes.

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