It began on a cross-country flight a couple of years ago. Rooting around in her carry-on, stockbroker and hedge fund trader Cathy O’Neill with dismay found herself with only one book in her briefcase — a dry, technical tome on “passive houses” that her contractor had given her to peruse.
It wasn’t exactly a light read to make time fly.
But as long as she was a captive audience, O’Neill, who had just bought an extreme fixer-upper in Sonoma, made the best of it. She enlisted a team of fellow first-class passengers, including an engineer, to help her understand the principles of this ultra-energy-efficient design that is becoming the residential construction standard in parts of Europe.
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