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Smith House (Urbana, Illinois, USA)

Credits: ©2009 Passive House USA

The Smith House in Urbana, Illinois, is located in a cold, humid climate region. It is designed and built as a passive house that is well-insulated, virtually air-tight and is primarily heated by passive solar gain and by internal gains from people, electrical equipment, etc. Energy losses are minimized through such features as perimeter and under-slab insulation, 12 inches of blown fiberglass wall insulation and 4 inches of rigid insualtion on the exterior walls. Its combination of 100-foot earth tube and radiant in-floor electric heating supplement the sun, and a tankless water heater provides hot water while the home is wired for future solar thermal and photovoltaics. Read more ont he Passive House USA website www.passivehouse.us


Smith House

The house utilizes a 100-foot long earth-tube air intake for pre-heating and cooling of air ©2008 Katrin Kilingenberg

German-born Katrin Klingenberg, founder of e-co lab, completed a 1,200 square foot home in Urbana, Ill., in 2003. Her goal was to demonstrate that stringent Passive House energy standards could be met in the severe climate of Central Illinois. The project has succeeded, inspiring the ongoing construction and research efforts of e-co lab. Applying computer modeling, Klingenberg implemented several, but not all, of the many techniques, systems and materials that can be used to reduce energy load the required 90 percent.

Among them:
•Superinsulation (total R value of 56) and supertight thermal envelope--thermal bridges are minimized.
•Orientation that maximizes passive solar heating in winter, cooling in summer.
•Triple-glazed windows.
•100-foot long earth-tube air intake for pre-heating and -cooling.
•Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) that recovers heat from exhaust air, and ensures constant outdoor air ventilation for excellent indoor air quality.
•Instantaneous electric water heater.

A dwelling which achieves the PassivHaus standard typically includes:
•very good levels of insulation with minimal thermal bridges;
•well thought out utilization of solar and internal gains -- for instance, as air is exhausted from the house, it is often run through a heat exchanger in order to warm the incoming air and recycling the energy in the house. Incoming air is frequently run through underground tubes to bring it up to the ground's ambient temperature in the mid 50s Farenheit;
•excellent level of airtightness; and
•good indoor air quality, provided by a whole house mechanical ventilation system with highly efficient heat recovery.


  Smith House in Energy Design Update (548 kb)