Mechanic Street Passive House

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When the Hevenor family approached Steve DeMetrick of DeMetrick Housewrights about building their new home in Wakefield, Rhode Island, they already knew that they wanted a Passive House. This young family of four had purchased an infill lot close to the bike path, easily walkable to the grocery store and the local elementary school. They were looking to build an affordable new home, and liked the predictability that comes with building a Passive House—in many ways eliminating many of the big decisions that come with designing and building any new home.

Steve DeMetrick and architect Steve Baczek worked with the clients to design and build a simple three-bedroom, two-bath home which was builder- and supplier-friendly, using conventional and easily-available building materials. The builder-architect team worked closely with the clients from the beginning as an integrated team, and everyone on the project was committed to the goals of affordability and replicability.

The building features Schuco triple-paned windows and a finished concrete floor (beneath which lies six inches of foam with an insulating R-value of 26). Double-stud walls provide room for 12 inches of thermal insulation (totaling R-55). Blown-in cellulose insulation in the roof is calculated at R-92. By keeping the building’s shape simple, the team was able to complete the project for a total construction cost of $300,420, or $163.00 a square foot. As the first PHIUS-certified Passive House in Rhode Island, this project sets the standard for helping to bring Passive House into the mainstream.

 

Maynard Passive HousE

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When Craig Maynard decided to retire and buy a piece of land next to Saugatucket Pond in Peace Dale, he teamed up with builder Steve DeMetrick and architect Steve Baczek after touring one of their previous projects (see Mechanic Street Passive House) and decided he too wanted a certified Passive House.

At approximately 2,400 square feet, the inside of the house contains three bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms. In the average house, a space this large would mean inconsistent temperatures, depending on the location of leaks. With super-insulated walls, triple glazed windows and very low air leakage rates, the design is engineered so that everywhere in the house will be within three degrees of the ambient room temperature – a feature that provides prime comfort no matter the season.

One somewhat unusual feature is the ground loop filled with antifreeze that is buried in the ground outside the house.  This helps moderate the temperature of the air before it comes into the air to air heat exchangers, helping to cool the house in the summer and keep it warmer in the winter.

The house also features 21 solar panels installed by Newport Solar with a sonnenBatterie as an alternative to a generator. The home will be able to store energy while the sun is shining and when there’s excess power, pump unused energy back into the grid, with the goal of being Net Zero and eventually going off the grid entirely.