VOLKS House = Site Zero Pasivhaus

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The Volks is one of our current zero energy buildings under construction.  Last week we supervised the blower door test to test our new air tightness strategy.   It came in at a .23 ACH @ 50 p.  This building is a spec. being developed by our partner Robert Schneck of NY to provide proof that affordable site-zero development has the edge in the current market. We are also trying to post for Bob it  www.worldecohouse.com.

We just submitted an abstract for presentation at the 16th annual International passive house conference in Hanover.  PassivHaus Conference .  It basicly is about how the Volkshouse is being built for less then then a typical code built home. In our area a typical one-off home is built for around 150$ sqft. This was confirmed when we modeled the Volks house through the RS Means software that has regionaly spesific construction costs per essembly. It cam out at $150.15 a sqft. The volksHouse is a Zero Energy House and it is costing less then that.!!!!

For that matter, The Balance Project in the Santa Fe Railyard was also, and in fact for less then the VolksHouse.   Well, we are not seeing any reason to build anything else but zero-energy buildings. If they don’t cost more…..

I am going to copy the abstract here. there are most likely a bunch of typos, but it was 11:30 pm on the eve of the deadline..


Breaking the Cost Barrier 

Simplifying the construction process to reduce cost and ensure quality

South-Western United States

Intent: Affordability

This presentation will discuss two two residential passive house projects completed this year in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.   These projects demonstrate that within this region it is possible to construct residential Passive Houses meeting ZEB, for less then current typical home construction costs.  The primary approach to affordability of these projects is through the simplification of high performance thermal envelopes and mechanical systems designed to economically compliment the building’s performance.

Challenges:  New construction technique

Both projects were built by different general contractors having no previous Passive House or high performance building experience.  As is common within the south west region of the United States both construction crews were predominately Mexican immigrants with no thermal bridge reduction, air-tightness, or passive house window installation experience.

Approach: Simplicity

The projects attempted to use simple building ensembles using North American construction techniques and products.  Both projects are very different in terms of their approach to wall assemblies and mechanical systems.  Many lessons were learned during the construction process of the first project. These lessons were integrated into the  second project.  This presentation will discuss the lessons learned and address the pros and cons of the different building techniques and system designs.  Both projects achieve very respectable energy performance targets, but with significantly difference environmental footprints.  The resulting impacts to construction cost are also compared.


Comparison: Cost modeling

Cost modeling of the comparison Code homes were completed using industry recognized regionally specific unit costs based on assembly

, these results were then checked through the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association (SFAHB). In order to establish a benchmark of typical construction costs both projects were compared to an equally sized and shaped house that met current building code requirements

.    Both projects will be compared to their model homes in terms of overall construction costs and individual construction divisions in order to better understand the economic differences, difficulties, and advantages.

Conclusion:Comparisons indicate that both projects were completed for less then their model code built homes.  Project One was built for 14% less then the model home in total construction costs, and Project Two for 8% less then the model home in total construction costs.  These results will be discussed and compared in order continue learning and improving.

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