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.
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.
Controlling the downwind firebreak
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
Cindy's dog Shelby
With Jim Dowd in front of fallen yellow birch