This serene rural home is New York state’s first certified Passive House. For firms used to designing with photovoltaic systems, a passive house seems counter-intuitive. “It isn’t looking to the sun to do a lot of work,” says architect Dennis Wedlick. “You’re relying on an envelope so airtight and well-insulated that it takes very little heat to compensate for cold weather, and vice versa.”
The 1,650-square-foot home sits on a 7.5-acre lot in a conservation development. After modeling hundreds of strategies, Wedlick decided on a mono-structure of exposed southern pine arches and a SIPs wall and roof system. With the entire frame surrounded by insulation like a thermos, two mini-split heat pumps can condition the interior—master suite and living area below, a mezzanine with two bedrooms and a study above.
A south-facing, 24-foot-by-24-foot glass wall provides a strong outdoor connection. The timber frame and stone exterior recall the region’s houses and barns. “The stone is just decorative, but it makes sense aesthetically of those thick walls and is almost zero maintenance,” Wedlick says. Built at a cost of $224 per square foot, the house is expected to consume 73 percent less energy than similar homes in the area.