Second Passive House in Arlington

A second house built to the Passive House standard is being constructed in Arlington. The first was built in the Alcova Heights neighborhood of South Arlington and this home is in the North Arlington’s Donaldson Run neighborhood.

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So what is Passive House? It is an international program started in Germany. A US chapter was initiated in 2007. The Passive House Institute certifies homes for being super energy-efficient with ultra-insulated walls and roofs and fully air tight envelopes- think styrofoam cooler tight. Because these homes are so tight and insulated, they require heating and cooling systems that are much smaller than in the average home. Some people even say that these homes could be heated with a hair dryer. This might be stretching it a little far, but you get the point.

This North Arlington home looks like many Craftsman style homes in the area, but don’t let that fool you. It is definitely different. For starters, it has 8 inches of rigid foam insulation under the entire basement slab. This will insulate the house from the temperature of the ground in the winter.

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The exterior walls of the house are composed of two sets of 2×4” studs (double wall) and contain 10 inches of recycled newspaper insulation, known as dense packed cellulose. The average home only has 4 or 6 inch wall cavities. In addition, a special sheathing is used to create the exterior walls with tape applied to every seam, forming a continuous air barrier for the home.

This practice, plus the use of spray applied foam insulation in the roof and in all other “holes” in the structure, make this house air tight. The walls of this home will have an insulative R-value of 36 and the roof of 60. The current building energy code requires walls to be insulated at R-13 and roofs at R-38.

Another feature of this home are the amazing windows and doors! They are constructed of triple paned glass with many different locking mechanisms and insulated frames. These windows open like standard casement windows, but also offer the option of tilting in from the top. How cool is that? Most standard windows of an insulative value of R-2 to maybe R-4. These windows have an R-value of 8.

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Check back soon for more details about this innovative home!

By: Helen Reinecke-Wilt