Back in Midcoast Maine, we live in a high performance house in Belfast Ecovillage, a 36-unit community built to the Passive House standard (but not certified). While neighbors in our cold climate pay thousands of dollars to heat their homes, we pay just a couple hundred. Our home has generous amounts of insulation, triple-pane windows and doors, and is air sealed, so little heated air escapes to the outside. Because the home is nearly airtight, we have a Zehnder heat recovery ventilation system to continuously bring fresh air into the home, while recycling the heat from the exhaust air. Numerous qualities set high performance homes apart from their code-built counterparts.
“We’ve beat the Passive House standard [of 0.60 air changes per hour] by far in all the houses at Belfast Ecovillage,” explains Brian Hughs, a member of Belfast Ecovillage and carpenter for GO Logic, the design-build firm that served as the general contractor. “The triplex unit got less than 0.20; that’s three times [more airtight] than the Passive House standard, which is a high standard to hit.”
A high-performance house offers many unique features that dramatically reduce dependence on fossil fuels, while providing exceptional comfort. Although many of these features have an upfront cost, they reduce the operating costs of the home throughout its lifespan.
Image credit: 1) Steve Chiasson of Belfast Ecovillage 2) Fairfax County
Sarah Lozanova is a regular contributor to environmental and energy publications and websites, including Mother Earth Living, Green Builder, Home Power, and Urban Farm. Her experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and she resides in Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage in Midcoast Maine with her husband and two children.
Sarah Lozanova is a green copywriter and communications professional specializing in renewable energy and clean technology. She is a consultant for Sustainable Solutions Group and a regular contributor to environmental and energy publications and websites, including Mother Earth Living, Home Power, Earth911, and Green Builder. Her experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and she resides in Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage in Midcoast Maine.