Airtight Building Design: How our Passive House Aced the Blower Door Test

Airtight Building Design Keeps Drafts Out

Chilly winter drafts make December the perfect time to talk about airtight building design and energy efficiency. Peckham Architecture’s LEED Platinum home headquarters is sealed and insulated to the point of being airtight. Episode 7 of our Green Building series shows the phenomenal results our passive house achieved in a blower door test. This test detects and measures air leaks as part of an energy audit, which evaluates a building’s energy efficiency. Even with one exterior door standing open, our headquarters is the most airtight building in the city of Columbia!

Here’s how it works:

Elements of Airtight Building Design

As we have shared previously in our Green Building series, we achieved airtightness using structural insulated panels, recycled blown in insulation and liquid house wrap. Together with solar panels, ductless heating and cooling and other sustainable features, these green building materials make our passive house net-positive. This means that our headquarters produces more electricity than it consumes. Energy efficient design matters—green buildings like this one are essential for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and stemming the rise of global temperatures.

Ventilating an Airtight Green Building

Airtight building design poses unique ventilation challenges. The Zehnder HRV system in our passive house was custom designed for the needs of this building. The HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation) system replaces the stale, humid indoor air with fresh air from outside. Inside the energy recovery core, energy from the “old” air heats the incoming “new” air to nearly the same temperature before distributing it in the home. This creates constant indoor climate stability.

Learn more about our ductless, energy efficient heating and cooling system here.

Buildings as Green as Science Allows

Join Peckham Architecture in our mission to be part of the solution to climate change. If you’re considering a new construction, renovation or historic preservation project, make it as green as possible. We can help—get in touch to discuss your project and learn about our architectural designconsulting and planning services.

Peckham Architecture offers prospective clients a free initial meeting of up to 1 hour.

Contact us today to see what’s possible: 573-777-4444

PREVIOUSLY: Green Buildings and the U.N. Report on Climate Change

Green Buildings and the U.N. Report on Climate Change

Green Buildings and the U.N. Report on Climate Change

Green Buildings and Climate Change

By now, you’ve probably heard about the United Nations’ latest report on climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is calling for immediate and comprehensive reductions in global emissions to avert the climate disaster we will otherwise face in the next two decades. (Because climate science denial leads to irreparable harm, we encourage you to educate yourself on this topic using reputable sources. This article from The New York Times is a place to start.)

At Peckham Architecture, we feel a personal responsibility to take action. According to the United Nations, buildings consume about 40 percent of global energy and produce nearly a third of greenhouse gas emissions. Green buildings are essential for stemming the rise of global temperatures.

Here’s one example—Peckham Architecture’s LEED Platinum, net-positive home headquarters. It is Missouri’s first Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) Certified building, designed to be the greenest house on earth:

Green Buildings: Our Part of the Solution to Climate Change

There’s no way around it—human action is the only solution to climate change. Cities play a central role, and green buildings and energy-saving retrofits could make a massive impact.

Here’s some hopeful news: At the 2015 climate summit in Paris, mayors from 96 cities agreed to implement carbon budgets that would help limit rising temperatures. Emissions in 27 of those C40 Cities have already peaked. This article from Curbed is full of resources on the challenge these cities have taken on.

For our part, Peckham Architecture designs buildings as energy efficient as science allows. Our deep green building practices create eco-friendly homes and businesses with net-positive energy. This means our green buildings produce more electricity than they consume!

Our Green Building Series shows how we achieve such extraordinary efficiency. Here’s Episode 1: How a Passive House Can Fight Global Warming.

Take Action

Join Peckham Architecture in our mission to be part of the solution to climate change. If you’re considering a new construction, renovation or historic preservation project, make it as green as possible. We can help—get in touch to discuss your project and learn about our architectural design, consulting and planning services.

Peckham Architecture offers prospective clients a free initial meeting of up to 1 hour.

Contact us today to see what’s possible: 573-777-4444

PREVIOUSLY: An Environmentally Conscious Cat Café in Columbia, Missouri:

Columbia’s Cat Café Goes Green

Thermally Boring: Ductless Heating and Cooling

Advantages of Ductless Heating and Cooling

Peckham Architecture’s LEED Platinum home headquarters in Columbia, Missouri, uses ductless heating and cooling and HRV (heat recovery ventilation) to maintain clean, comfortable indoor air. These tools contribute to net-positive energy: Our green building produces more energy than it consumes. During the hottest May on record (2016), we earned a negative electric bill (-$176)! Yet many Americans still don’t know about these technologies.

This green building in Columbia, Missouri, uses ductless heating and cooling and other sustainable technologies to achieve net-positive energy.

Ductless heating and cooling is, by definition, far more efficient and flexible than typical ducted systems. In the video below, Jamie Callahan of Columbia-based Air & Water Solutions talks about our Mitsubishi Electric ductless heating and cooling system, also known as a mini split.

“The United States is the only place that uses duct work,” Callahan says. “Everywhere else in the world has been using mini splits for over 40 years. So we’re just behind on the technology.”

Ventilating a Green Building

Our green building is sealed and insulated to the point of being airtight, which poses unique ventilation challenges. The Zehnder HRV system was custom designed for the needs of this house.

“With this house being so tight, you have to control moisture, smells, VOCs,” Callahan says.

The HRV system replaces the stale, humid indoor air with fresh air from outside. Inside the energy recovery core, energy from the “old” air heats the incoming “new” air to nearly the same temperature before distributing it in the home. This creates constant indoor climate stability.

“It’s complete comfort control, as well as energy savings,” Callahan says. “So we’re far above and beyond a standard construction home on efficiencies.”

Thermally Boring means Energy Efficient

In the video below, green building expert Dave Horton uses a thermal imaging system to detect heat transfer in our eco house. Buildings are full of thermal bridges, or areas where energy typically escapes: the slab foundation, doors and windows, walls and ceiling, and the roof. Luckily, green building insulation can dramatically reduce heat transfer. This is one time when boring is best—Horton’s thermal imager showed very little activity.

“There’s not a whole lot that looks thermally different,” Horton said. “If it’s thermally boring like that, that’s what you want. You want it to all just look the same.”

Horton says this project “could very well be the greenest house that I’ve ever worked on, if not the greenest house anyone has ever worked on.”

Get a closer look here:

Make your new construction or renovation deep green. Peckham Architecture offers prospective clients a free initial meeting of up to 1 hour.

Contact us today to see what’s possible: 573-777-4444

PREVIOUSLY: Insulating your green building with liquid house wrap and blown in cellulose:

Green Building Insulation: Liquid House Wrap and Blown In Cellulose

Green Building Episode 6: How HRV and Mini Split Systems Save Energy

This short film is Episode 6 of Peckham Architecture’s 11-part documentary series on how to construct a green building for energy efficiency and a lower carbon footprint. This episode shows the installation of HRV (heat recovery ventilation) and mini split systems and explains how they contribute to energy conservation in a passive house.

Peckham Architecture’s LEED Platinum home headquarters is Missouri’s first Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) Certified building. Solar panels and super insulation make our eco house net-positive, which means that it produces more electricity than it consumes. LED lights, a tankless water heater and Energy Star appliances further improve our energy efficiency.

Our passive house has also been featured in the Columbia Business Times and Columbia Missourian.

To learn more or start your own green building project, contact us today.

 

More from our eco house: 

Green Building Episode 5: Using Liquid House Wrap and Recycled Blown In Insulation

Green Building Episode 7: How our Passive House Aced the Blower Door Test