A rendering of a “passive house” designed by WAMO Studio. This house has been designed as a cost-effective, net-zero structure.

VOLKsHouse LLC, a New York-based firm, has partnered with Santa Fe-based architect Vahid Mojarrab, principal and co-founder of WAMO Studio, to design and build a net-zero energy home more cheaply than the current standard.

The firms’ “passive home” includes solar power, high-performance windows and doors, and extra insulation. "We're still using the same plywood, the same two-by-fours, same insulation, but how carefully they are constructed and the order they go together becomes a part of the energy efficiency and air tightness of the building," Mojarrab said.

The total construction cost for the passive home was $230 per square foot, although land grading added to what might have been a lower cost, according to Mojarrab.

Bob Schneck, president of VOLKsHouse LLC, said the company's goal is to bring eco-friendly homes into the mainstream by making them more cost-effective. Eco-homes also help families save money on energy costs in the long run, and eco-homes retain their value better, Schneck said.

Read more >