In our most recent podcast, Connected Design chief editor Erinn Loucks interviewed Wayne Turett, founder and principal of award-winning architecture & design firm The Turett Collaborative. Turett filled us in on how he built his own passive home, where he feels sustainability is going in the industry and where trends are leading us.
“A passive house is a strange name. Passive house comes from one of its principles; you need to be able to orient your house so it takes advantage of the sun so that it is able to be heated and cooled passively. In my house on eastern Long Island, it can go from 70 to 75 degrees just from heat in the sun.
The problem is if you don’t have a way to shield the heat in the summer, it becomes a source heat you don’t want. So the second principle involves overhangs. The low winter sun needs to come in, but the high summer sun needs to be shielded out.
Another principle is the traditional way of building, there was a big way that cold would come in through the studs. Every 16 inches, you have a 1.5-in. strip up against the sheetrock that’s almost exposed to the exterior, and that was creating a lot of cold leaking into the house. This needs to be sealed up by putting insulation on the exterior. The codes have caught up, and now it’s called continuous insulation. When you insulate the exterior, you prevent the cold coming into the house through the studs. Because it is all sealed up, you think of sick building syndrome, which occurred in the past when the furniture would out gas. Because it is so sealed up, we use what’s called an energy recovery ventilation unit (ERV).
That brings fresh air into the house and it exhausts the stale air out of the building. In an ideal situation, all the bathrooms and kitchen are being exhausted and all the bedrooms and living rooms are being supplied with fresh air. The problem with that is you loose all of that heat, so you run it through an ERV and it exchanges the energy without the two airstreams touching.”