5 jaw-dropping passive houses

Matthew Grocoff

June 23, 2016

By: Matthew Grocoff, Green Renovation Expert

In: Green Living

Along with Net Zero Energy homes, "passive house" is one of the hottest housing trends both in the United States and around the world. The standard allows homes to reduce energy consumption by an astonishing 90% or more over conventionally built homes. With the addition of a small array of solar panels, these homes can become net energy producers, sending more energy back to the grid than they take from it.

The standard was created in Germany (PassivHaus) to harness energy from the sun using intelligent architectural design and the latest advances in building science. It is now popular in virtually every corner of the world.

I've argued before that beauty is a precondition to sustainability. Some of the most innovative builders and architects are creating the world's most beautiful buildings using standards based on the rules of nature like passive house and the Living Building Challenge.

Here are just a few of the homes I consider to be the most jaw-dropping, heart-stopping, eye-popping living spaces on Earth.

Wallace Street passive house

Wallace Street House from Campos Studio - Vancouver, BC

Wallace Street House is a 3500 sf home in Vancouver, BC. The wood siding was created using the luxurious process of Japanese wood preservation called Sho Sugu Ban (read my article on the process here: Want a beautiful house? Burn it: Why charred wood siding is trending ). Shou Sugi Ban preserves wood by burning it. The technique simultaneously makes the wood beautiful, mold resistant, pest resistant and, ironically, fire resistant. The Wallace Street house seems to breath fire. With its large south-facing windows, the sun helps warm this northern climate home as well as bringing in loads of natural daylight all year long.

Photo via Leckie Studio

Karuna passive house

Karuna House from Hammer and Hand - Oregon, US

Hammer and Hand is known for their sustainable and sexy homes. Designed by Holst Architecture, the Karuna House is a exemplar of high-performance and high-design. Perched atop the Oregon hills the home balances wood and glass making it look like it is floating above the forested panorama. The home is certified Passive House, Minergie-P-ECO, LEED for Homes Platinum, DOE Zero Energy Ready Home, Earth Advantage Platinum

Photo via Hammer and Hand

Equinox passive house

Equinox Passive House from Ignatov Architects - Kavarna, Bulgaria

If any home could fly it would be the Equinox Passive House in Bulgaria. Stone, grass, wood, and glass blend into the hillside blurring the lines between earth and sky and between the inanimate and the living. The homes stands guard over the Black Sea with views that could knock down Joe Louis without throwing a punch. The windows are angled to marry the sun on the winter solstice optimizing warmth and daylight during the darkest day of the year. This elegant dance with nature makes it one of the world's most beautiful and energy efficient homes.

Photo via Ignatov Architects

Hudson passive house

Hudson Passive Project from BarlisWedlick Architect LLC - Claverack, New York, US

Architect Dennis Wedlick's project was the first home in New York state to achieve Passive House Certification. It is one of the most energy efficient home in the country. The house was built in only four months and set a national record for air-tightness among certified passive homes which helps keep the house exceptionally cozy.

Photo via BarlisWedlick

Waldblick passive house

Waldblick House from Atelier Street - Liepzig, Germany

This wood and glass wonder embodies the shape of efficiency and energy optimization. The 2000 square foot home uses about half the energy of a typical American home. Waldblick House is built like a thermos, but certainly doesn't look like one. The glass brings in spectacular views. While the house falls just shy of Passive House Certification standards, its so beautiful that it's hard to kick it out of bed for eating crackers.

Photo via Atelier st

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