Here we share some observations about and snapshots of the Passive House we had built in Michigan. All photographs here were taken by Maura or Kurt unless otherwise noted.

—Maura and Kurt Jung

MaySunday, 25 May 2014

We were delighted to recently host an outing for the 24 awesome members of the Orchards Children’s Services Youth Board. These young people had a chance to visit our home and property and, after lunch, visit a nearby equestrian center for some horse-related activities.

Kurt, Shiawassee and Maura

Photo by Laura Jung

Maura, Jenny and Andy with Shiawassee and Chief

Our home has garnered some positive attention from other quarters too. This spring our electricity utility, DTE Energy, featured the home in the spring edition of EnergySmarts of Michigan, its consumer publication. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting with the good folks who produced the article. However, we never did have a chance to congratulate in person the talented crew that Photoshopped the snowbanks out of the cover image to make it appear like a spring picture.

As recipient of the 2014 Fine Homebuilding Houses award for best energy smart home, our house was paid a memorable visit by editor Rob Yagid and crew. The hardcopy Houses 2014 edition has a cutaway graphic that shows in meticulous detail the various components of the passive house shell that encloses our home.

Other recognition has come from Green Building Advisor and Proud Green Home.

Habitat restorationThursday, 10 April 2014

Our home site is situated in the lovely moraine uplands of northwest Oakland County, a region that 15,000 years ago was surrounded by the retreating Saginaw, Huron and Erie glacial lobes. What the coarse-textured soil in the area lacked in fertility it made up for in the natural beauty of oak savannas in the highlands and prairie fens and marshes in the outwashes. These fragile habitats have not fared well with post-settlement farming practices, widespread development, introduction of aggressive invasive plants and animals, and explosion of deer populations. Suppression of fires has degraded oak openings. Drains and peat mining have destroyed many fens, systems that depend on water that upwells from underground. Fens in particular support many threatened and endangered species including the mild-natured and beautiful Massasauga rattlesnake and Poweshiek Skipperling butterfly.

One of our goals here is to undo some of the ravages of the last couple hundred years. We have been active in removing autumn olive, black swallow-wort, phragmites, and garlic mustard, all of which support fewer native bird and insect species than the native plants they displace. Yesterday, the friendly and capable crew from PlantWise in Ann Arbor conducted a prescribed burn to help restore the gem on our property, a perched prairie fen. The burn included a wooded area that slopes down to the fen and which we hope to restore to an oak savanna in the years ahead. The burn itself was subject to many variables including temperature, wind conditions and snow cover. Throughout the operation, the prodigious amounts of smoke produced belied a fire that was always well controlled and slow moving. These fires do not damage established trees.

Starlight

Ignition point

Controlling the downwind firebreak

Oak woods

Fen

Fen

Fen

Fen with house in background

The controlled burn is an important step in maintaining the rich ecology of the fen and just one of a large set of practices needed to preserve this increasingly rare habitat.

SnowshoeingThursday, 20 February 2014

All of the snow has made this a perfect winter to visit areas that are inaccessible at other times of the year.

Maura in sunset

Snow banks

Maura

Cindy's dog Shelby

With Jim Dowd in front of fallen yellow birch

Links of interest

G • O Logic

Energy Wise Homes

J F Shewchuck Construction

Bostwick Excavating

Hanneman and Fineis Concrete Construction

Northern Michigan Hardwoods

RTM Heating & Cooling

Bach Electric

GoldStar Hardwood

Randy Lalone Well Drilling

Nu•Wool Premium Cellulose Insulation

Weaver Tile

Passive House Academy

WKAR / Lansing Home Builder Pushes Green Envelope

Pro Trees Unlimited

MPC Cashway Lumber

Lumbermen's Inc

Spartan Painting

Reynolds Water Conditioning, Co.

Zehnder

Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating

Young Supply

Equilibrium Energy Spaces

PlantWise

 

Picture index

 

April 2012

Breaking ground

Preparing the footings

Completing the footing forms

The Passive House standard

Compromises

Footings poured

Crawlspace walls

Concrete poured

Additional insulation

Drain tile wrapped

 

May 2012

Backfilling and compaction

Crawlspace backfilled

Support posts installed

Framing delivered and barrier installed

Installing TJI joists

Installing the subflooring

Installing the first floor walls

Preparing for the second floor

Straight, Plumb, Level, Square and now Airtight

Second floor taking shape

Attic joists

Roof trusses

Roof trusses and attic deck

Roof deck and overhangs

Fascia boards

 

June 2012

Crawl space insulation and roof

Made in Michigan

Special delivery

Crawl space preparation

First floor preparation, TJI base

Sealing air barrier

Soffits and tape seams

First floor concrete and first envelope trusses

Crawlspace concrete

Excavating, trusses and crawlspace stairway

Water line excavation

Stairway, window framing

Fiberboard installation

Fiberboard installation and wrap

 

July 2012

Framing crawlspace walls

Envelope, plumbing

Beginning of wraparound porch

Porch

Porch and ceiling

Wrap-around porch

 

August 2012

Wrap-around porch

Window installation

Preliminary blower door test

Insulation

 

September 2012

Wiring, insulation, porch roof

Siding

Siding progress

Well drilled

Mechanical system installation

 

October 2012

Insulation of inside wall

Drywall and siding

Drywall

Drywall and attic insulation

Drywall, mechanical system

Wood floors and exterior painting

Doors and cabinetry delivered

 

November 2012

Exterior concrete, kitchen cabinets

Upstair floors, porch siding

Painting, tiling, flooring

WKAR interview, floor finishing

Exterior concrete, crawlspace walls and floor

Crawlspace floor

Compressors, exterior lights, tile

Entrances: drive and house

 

December 2012

Trim work

Front entrance

Floors and windows

Exemplary results in blower door test

Walkway, bathroom vanity top

Counter tops

Kitchen back splash tiling

 

January 2013

Upstairs painting

Upstairs painting and trim

Downstairs door finishing

Upstairs floor finishing, water conditioner

Downstairs painting

Kitchen shelf, painting

Cabinetry trim, painting

 

February 2013

Cabinetry hardware

Final interior painting

First Holly Passive House Conference

 

March 2013

Certificate of Occupancy

Home

 

December 2013

Settled in

 

January 2014

Winter storm

 

February 2014

Winter

Snowshoeing

 

April 2014

Habitat restoration

 

May 2014

May