Living in a Passive House

As many of you know, I live in Seattle’s first certified Passive House, designed by our client, Nicholson Kovalchick Architects.  While not common in the US, this standard of building is very common in Europe and especially in Brussels, where they’ve mandated it into their building code. cascade built 1 In light of Seattle’s building boom and our cold, wet winter, I wanted to share my experience of living in a Passive House in the hopes that it inspires you to desire better living, too. It’s warm. Always.  If the sun is out, we don’t even need to turn on the heater (which is incredibly small and not furnace like) – even it's 50-degrees outside.  Our south facing windows will trap the sun’s warmth into the house.  If it’s not sunny, our tiny heater can heat the whole house because our walls have 16-inches of insulation in them and our floor and roof have almost 20-inches of insulation. People initially asked me if it was stifling.  The concept of a tight building envelope translated into being “sealed” into the house.  “No”, I would say because we are breathing continuous, filtered fresh air courtesy of our high performance Zehnder HRV (heat recovery ventilator). My kids run around in t-shirts and shorts most of the time because they are generally warm.  Their teachers think I’m crazy when they tell them they live in California indoors. cascade built 2 If the house is cooler than I want it – meaning 67 or 68, I can do a load of laundry and dry it in our condensing dryer to add heat or bake in the oven, which has an induction cooktop because in a Passive House it’s about using other sources for heat, and having no holes in the house (like from a traditional dryer vent). We live in a constant state of comfort – warm and sheltered from the noise of the outside (triple pane windows and doors + all that insulation = quiet).  I don’t miss one second of sitting in front of a drafty window, feeling dry from the constant blowing of forced air heat, or walking in from the outside to bundle up in my indoor jacket and slippers. passive house Ha! You might be thinking. But what about when summer comes.  Well, we lower our outdoor shades and give the sun’s energy a rest.  And our house remains a cool (in this case) 70-degrees. Want to live in a Passive House? Our client and the builder (other occupant) of Park Passive, Cascade Built, has  two more passive house constructed townhomes left in its recent SolHaus project. Just like me, he loves it so much, he wants everyone to enjoy the same quality of life while reducing our impact on climate change. Have questions about what it’s like to live in a Passive House? Ask away on our Facebook page.   *Photos courtesy of Aaron Leitz Photography