On Mondays, we post a new home whose design is presented in the builder’s or designer’s own words. This week:
Builder: Rick Milburn, Solar Knights Construction, Napa, Calif. Architect:Jarrod Denton, Lail Design Group, St. Helena, Calif. Passive house consulting: Graham Irwin, Essential Habitat Consulting. Interior design:Jann Blazona, Sonoma, Calif. Landscape architect: Chandler & Chandler, Napa.
Project description: Constructed in 1960, the residence was originally two structures set on a concrete slab and linked by a covered breezeway. The new design updates the existing structures and converts the breezeway into a kitchen, expanding the floor plan by 400 feet and uniting the two wings while improving comfort, air quality and energy efficiency. The residence is now a 2,400-square-foot modern farmhouse, white-washed with a street-facing front porch, metal standing-seam roof and bright interior courtyard. In July, the project was certified by the Passive House Institute U.S. as the first passive house in California and the first retrofit passive project in the country. A retrofit passive house refers to replacing the existing home’s “active” heating and cooling systems with high levels of insulation, efficient windows, optimized passive solar gain, airtight construction and a “fresh-air” furnace that recaptures energy used in the house that can be reused for heating and cooling. The temperature in the house does not exceed 76 degrees, even during extreme summer heat. The house has been selected for the Department of Energy’s Building America Program as a prototype home. The program highlights new products and innovative construction methods and will monitor and verify the house’s energy savings. Despite our dedication to efficiency, the house doesn’t look like an experiment; in fact, it looks quite normal. Comfort and a pleasing design were not sacrificed.
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