The Ranch -Renovation for a Better Home

  • EnerPHit   •   July 9, 2019

Is it possible to live without burning fossil fuel?

A while ago my husband and I decided to modernize our 1948 ranch-style home just south of Los Angeles to a Zero Net Energy, Green Home – to use today’s popular buzzwords. We spent some time to figure out what that actually means to us. Here is what we came up with:

  • Live in a comfortable, healthy home with minimal mechanical systems to cool, heat and ventilate our home.
  • Reduce our need for power to run our home, cars and activities to a minimum, without changing our lifestyle, rather improve it.
  • Power our home, cars and activities without burning fossil fuel.
  • Have the option to be independent of the utility provided grid voluntarily or in case of a grid-power outage.
  • Be more aware of our impact on the environment – eliminate the negative and increase the positive.
  • Multiply the outcome by educating others. 

Since we do not tear down our existing house and build a new one, but rather modernize, we are already off to a good start minimizing waste, CO2 output and disturbance of native wildlife and plants around our home. On the other hand this means we have to find solutions for existing performance flaws of our 70 year old house to reach our goal.

Educating myself in building science, green building standards, as well as talking with many experienced industry professionals I concluded that only a whole-building approach will enable us to accomplish our goals of energy efficiency, comfort and will support a more positive impact on our environment.

By whole-building approach I mean to look at all building assemblies and systems and their interdependences. Conventional modernization focuses on isolated systems and assemblies without any regard to the impact that singular renovation might have on other assemblies and systems and the performance of a building as a whole.

I also concluded that the Passive House Standard is the best guidance for a whole-building appraoch and ergo our retrofit project. Following the Passive House Standard will facilitate that designed solutions and construction practices will transfer into the intended improvements and goals as stated above. In addition we are using other green building Standards as guidelines.

The Passive House Institute has developed the Passive House Standard through extensive research in building physics and monitoring of thousands of Passive House projects and has withstood testing of performance for over 25 years.

Passive House is a whole-building design and construction concept that can be applied by anyone in any climate around the world.  The Passive House Standard is the world leading standard in energy efficient construction; and it is way more than just a concept to build low-energy buildings. Passive House is a building standard that achieves ultra energy efficient, comfortable, affordable, durable and ecological buildings, regardless of the regional climate.

The Passive House Institute has assumed a leading position with regard to research and development of construction concepts, building components, planning tools and quality assurance for especially energy efficient buildings since it started in 1990.

Based on the Passive House Standard for new buildings, the Passive House Institute has developed a step-by-step methodology called EnerPHit to modernize existing buildings to become ultra-energy efficient and more comfortable in a cost effective way.

EnerPHit by Passive House Institute is going to be our compass, road map and guide to achieve our goals. You can read more about the concept here –> EnerPHit

In the next journal entry I will provide a short overview of the first step of our step-by-step Passive House renovation project.

Here are a few images of the first step of our Passive House renovation project. More details will follow about our path to fossil free living.

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