Forget Energy Star or even LEED — if you really want to slash your carbon footprint, living in a passive house is the way to go. Recently, Menlo Park, California, gained its first such home: Menlo Passive House, which was built by Clarum Homes.
According to The Almanac Online, insulation, airtight window frames, solar power, and a heat-recovery ventilation system all converge here in helping the home cut its energy costs by 90 percent. While Clarum has built passive-inspired homes with various sustainable systems in the past, this is the company’s first project built to meet all the standards required for certification from Passive House Instistute U.S.
Green features of this 3,300-square-foot, Mission-style home include structural insulated panels made of Styrofoam, triple-glazed windowpanes from Austria, and a liquid barrier applied to the outside of the panels — all of which helps the home retain its internal temperature, regardless of the weather.
A heat recovery ventilator helps to ensure proper outside air flow within this highly sealed thermal envelope while allowing the house to recover 90 percent of the heat that would otherwise be lost during this process; on the roof, three solar panels provide 90 percent of the power needed to heat water, and 40 percent of the power needed to heat space. More on the Menlo Passive Home is available online.