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 Insulation: Liquid House Wrap and Blown In Cellulose

Exhaustive green building insulation is critical for energy efficiency. That’s why we’ve dedicated three blog posts to insulation in our LEED Platinum home headquarters! You’ve already seen how we insulated the concrete slab foundation and used locally sourced structural insulated panels. Today, we’re revealing two new layers of green building insulation.

Exterior Liquid House Wrap

Most residential construction uses overlapping sheets of plastic house wrap. The sheeting suffers from gaps and tears and requires hardware in your exterior walls. To seamlessly protect our green building insulation, we used a liquid house wrap made of rubber. This material is effectively painted on. Because of rubber’s self-sealing properties, our liquid house wrap won’t tear and is more waterproof and airtight than conventional house wrap. In fact, this green building is so airtight that it became Missouri’s first Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) certified building.

Here’s a photo of the liquid house wrap application—expect questions from your neighbors about the color!

A construction worker applies exterior liquid house wrap to structural insulated panels on a green building.

Here’s how the liquid house wrap looked after application:

Liquid house wrap provides a seamless layer of protection to green building insulation.

Blown In Cellulose Insulation

A building’s ceiling is often one of its largest thermal bridges, or areas where heat loss occurs. To maximize energy efficiency, Peckham Architecture doubles the recommended ceiling insulation. After we insulated our concrete slab, erected SIPs and applied the house wrap, we insulated the ceiling of our green building. The 18-inch ceiling cavity contains blown in cellulose, a recycled paper product treated with borax to protect from infestations.

Learn more in Episode 5 of our Green Building Series:

Ready to begin your own deep green building or renovation? 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: Using structural insulated panels to maximize energy efficiency:

Passive House Insulation for Peak Energy Efficiency: SIPs

 

 

 

Green Building Episode 11: How to Install Solar Panels on a Standing Seam Metal Roof

This short film is the final episode in Peckham Architecture’s 11-part documentary series on how to construct a green building for energy efficiency and reduced carbon footprint. This episode shows the completion of Peckham Architecture’s LEED Certified home headquarters and the installation of solar panels on our standing seam metal roof.

Thanks to our photovoltaic system, super insulation, LED lighting, ERV (energy recovery ventilation), an instant hot water heater and Energy Star appliances, this green building is net-positive, which means it produces more energy than it consumes. During May 2016—our first month of occupancy and the warmest May on record—our building produced so much electricity that we received a $179 credit on our bill.

This project is Missouri’s first Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) Certified building. It has also been featured in the Columbia Business Times and Columbia Missourian.

To get ideas or start your own green building project, contact us today.

 

More from our eco house: 

Green Building Episode 10: How to Create a Certified Wildlife Area Using Sustainable Landscaping

Green Building Episode 10: How to Create a Certified Wildlife Area Using Sustainable Landscaping

This short film is Episode 10 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 how we created a Certified Wildlife Area at Peckham Architecture’s LEED Platinum home headquarters using low maintenance, sustainable landscaping. We also share erosion control strategies and show the beginnings of our geodesic dome.

Peckham Architecture’s LEED Platinum home headquarters is Missouri’s first Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) Certified building. This project has also been featured in the Columbia Business Times and Columbia Missourian.

To get ideas or start your own green building project, contact us today.

 

More from our eco house: 

Green Building Episode 9: Choosing Cabinetry for Low Carbon Footprint and High Indoor Air Quality

 

Green Building Episode 9: Choosing Cabinetry for Low Carbon Footprint and High Indoor Air Quality

This short film is Episode 9 of Peckham Architecture’s 11-part documentary series on how to construct a green building for energy efficiency and a lower carbon footprint. To support local and minimize the carbon footprint of our eco house, we selected custom cabinets built here in Columbia, Missouri, using locally-sourced materials.

Our kitchen cabinets and bathroom cabinets are made with PureBond Hardwood Plywood, which uses soy-based adhesive to eliminate formaldehyde off-gassing typical of conventional plywood. To further support healthy air quality inside our eco house, we chose low VOC cabinet finishes.

Peckham Architecture’s LEED Platinum home headquarters is Missouri’s first Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) Certified building. This project has also been featured in the Columbia Business Times and Columbia Missourian.

To get ideas or start your own green building project, contact us today.

 

More from our eco house: 

Green Building Episode 8: Sustainable Hardwood Flooring, Cork Flooring and Porcelain Tile

Green Building Episode 10: How to Create a Certified Wildlife Area Using Sustainable Landscaping

 

Green Building Episode 8: Sustainable Hardwood Flooring, Cork Flooring and Porcelain Tile

This short film is Episode 8 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 shares sustainable flooring selections for Peckham Architecture’s LEED Platinum home headquarters. In the main living areas, we chose pet-friendly, scratch-proof oak hardwood flooring infused with acrylic resin for lifetime durability. This treated wood flooring is 300 times harder than regular oak flooring, does not absorb moisture, and stands up to high-impact use.

For the Peckham Architecture office area, we selected quieter cork flooring. These rich, textural cork floor tiles are mold and mildew resistant and maintain their integrity when wet. For other areas, we chose porcelain tile made of recycled materials.

Peckham Architecture’s home headquarters is Missouri’s first Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) Certified building. This project has also been featured in the Columbia Business Times and Columbia Missourian.

To get ideas or start your own green building project, contact us today.

 

More from our eco house: 

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

Green Building Episode 9: Choosing Cabinetry for Low Carbon Footprint and High Indoor Air Quality

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

This short film is Episode 7 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 phenomenal results our passive house achieved in a blower door test, one part of an energy audit to assess energy efficiency. Even with one exterior door standing open, our eco house is the most airtight building in the city of Columbia, Missouri—and possibly in the country.

Peckham Architecture’s LEED Platinum home headquarters is Missouri’s first Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) Certified building. We used structural insulated panels, recycled blown in insulation for walls and ceilings and liquid house wrap to make our eco house airtight. These green building materials work together with solar panels, LED lights, HRV (heat recovery ventilation), a tankless water heater and Energy Star appliances to make our passive house net-positive, which means that it produces more electricity than it consumes.

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 this project: 

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

Green Building Episode 8: Sustainable Hardwood Flooring, Cork Flooring and Porcelain Tile

 

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