Three years ago, in the fall of 2010, as we were just starting to consider the idea of building our own house, we learned about the Green Buildings Open House Tour. The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) sponsors the event each year, and describes it as follows:
“The Green Buildings Open House Tour is the largest sustainable energy event in the Northeastern US. From Maine all the way down to Pennsylvania, hundreds of sustainability-minded property owners will open their doors to visitors interested in seeing sustainability features first hand. The one-day terrestrial tour allows visitors to engage in face-to-face discussions with property owners and learn from the knowledge and expertise they have gained from installing and living with these technologies.”
We learned a lot by visiting just one house that year. It was a beautiful house whose owners had thought of everything. Super-insulated, daylighted, solar hot water in custom tanks, gray water system, rain water collection, wood pellet furnace, backup HVAC, solar pool heater, PV electricity with huge backup generators, and on and on…. The highlight of the tour was their large utility room in the basement, crammed with large tanks and copper pipes snaking across the walls and ceiling. It was bewildering. It was a marvel of systems!
It gave us a lot to think about. And this article was published at around the same time. And we realized that if we were going to do it, it should be as simple as possible in all respects — design, maintenance, layout, functions, and access to outside. Passive House — or Passivhaus if you want to be European about it — was the solution.
On October 5, 2013, we will open our doors to visitors for the Green Buildings Open House. We hope to not only let neighbors see into the house down the street, but also maybe to inspire a few people to think about increasing the energy efficiency of their own houses or maybe even build one someday. We’re excited and proud to show off our house!