Here we share some observations about and snapshots of the Passive House we had built in Michigan. All photographs were taken by us unless otherwise noted.

—Maura and Kurt Jung

EnergyTuesday, 11 August 2015

Over the course of two years our all-electric house has consumed on average one kilowatt. Since there is no consumption of gas or wood, this rate includes all heating, cooking, ventilation (almost always running in a passive house), lighting, refrigeration, computer use, etc. From spring through summer the consumption is about 12 to 15 kWh per day; in the winter on cold days and nights we can reach three times that amount. However, the energy consumption rate is only part of the story. This house is comfortable. At one whole house change of air every three hours the interior air is always fresh.

Our new solar panel array was installed by Michigan Solar Solutions on the eight-to-twelve pitch roof of our barn. During July, its first full month of operation, we collected over 1,000 kWh. Depending on how well it performs in winter, this rate should bring our farmstead close to net-zero over the course of a year. It is a grid-tied system; our electrical utility credits us for any excess energy we place in the grid.

Solar array on barn

Solar-powered clothes dryer

Faith, evening before wedding

Debbie and Ryan with Scott driving Jake

Shiawassee: landscape excavator

We enjoyed hosting the wedding of Faith and Ryan over the weekend. Our draft horse Jake had the honor of conveying Faith to the ceremony with much appreciated help from Chris and Scott, Jake’s former owners.

MaySunday, 25 May 2014

We were delighted to recently host an outing for the 24 awesome members of the Orchards Children’s Services Youth Board. These young people had a chance to visit our home and property and, after lunch, visit a nearby equestrian center for some horse-related activities.

Kurt, Shiawassee and Maura

Photo by Laura Jung

Maura, Jenny and Andy with Shiawassee and Chief

Our home has garnered some positive attention from other quarters too. This spring our electricity utility, DTE Energy, featured the home in the spring edition of EnergySmarts of Michigan, its consumer publication. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting with the good folks who produced the article. However, we never did have a chance to congratulate in person the talented crew that Photoshopped the snowbanks out of the cover image to make it appear like a spring picture.

As recipient of the 2014 Fine Homebuilding Houses award for best energy smart home, our house was paid a memorable visit by editor Rob Yagid and crew. The hardcopy Houses 2014 edition has a cutaway graphic that shows in meticulous detail the various components of the passive house shell that encloses our home.

Other recognition has come from Green Building Advisor and Proud Green Home.

Habitat restorationThursday, 10 April 2014

Our home site is situated in the lovely moraine uplands of northwest Oakland County, a region that 15,000 years ago was surrounded by the retreating Saginaw, Huron and Erie glacial lobes. What the coarse-textured soil in the area lacked in fertility it made up for in the natural beauty of oak savannas in the highlands and prairie fens and marshes in the outwashes. These fragile habitats have not fared well with post-settlement farming practices, widespread development, introduction of aggressive invasive plants and animals, and explosion of deer populations. Suppression of fires has degraded oak openings. Drains and peat mining have destroyed many fens, systems that depend on water that upwells from underground. Fens in particular support many threatened and endangered species including the mild-natured and beautiful Massasauga rattlesnake and Poweshiek Skipperling butterfly.

One of our goals here is to undo some of the ravages of the last couple hundred years. We have been active in removing autumn olive, black swallow-wort, phragmites, and garlic mustard, all of which support fewer native bird and insect species than the native plants they displace. Yesterday, the friendly and capable crew from PlantWise in Ann Arbor conducted a prescribed burn to help restore the gem on our property, a perched prairie fen. The burn included a wooded area that slopes down to the fen and which we hope to restore to an oak savanna in the years ahead. The burn itself was subject to many variables including temperature, wind conditions and snow cover. Throughout the operation, the prodigious amounts of smoke produced belied a fire that was always well controlled and slow moving. These fires do not damage established trees.


Ignition point

Controlling the downwind firebreak

Oak woods




Fen with house in background

The controlled burn is an important step in maintaining the rich ecology of the fen and just one of a large set of practices needed to preserve this increasingly rare habitat.

Links of interest

G • O Logic

Energy Wise Homes

J F Shewchuck Construction

Bostwick Excavating

Hanneman and Fineis Concrete Construction

Northern Michigan Hardwoods

RTM Heating & Cooling

Bach Electric

GoldStar Hardwood

Randy Lalone Well Drilling

Nu•Wool Premium Cellulose Insulation

Weaver Tile

Passive House Academy

WKAR / Lansing Home Builder Pushes Green Envelope

Pro Trees Unlimited

MPC Cashway Lumber

Lumbermen's Inc

Spartan Painting

Reynolds Water Conditioning, Co.


Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating

Young Supply

Equilibrium Energy Spaces



Picture index


April 2012

Breaking ground

Preparing the footings

Completing the footing forms

The Passive House standard


Footings poured

Crawlspace walls

Concrete poured

Additional insulation

Drain tile wrapped


May 2012

Backfilling and compaction

Crawlspace backfilled

Support posts installed

Framing delivered and barrier installed

Installing TJI joists

Installing the subflooring

Installing the first floor walls

Preparing for the second floor

Straight, Plumb, Level, Square and now Airtight

Second floor taking shape

Attic joists

Roof trusses

Roof trusses and attic deck

Roof deck and overhangs

Fascia boards


June 2012

Crawl space insulation and roof

Made in Michigan

Special delivery

Crawl space preparation

First floor preparation, TJI base

Sealing air barrier

Soffits and tape seams

First floor concrete and first envelope trusses

Crawlspace concrete

Excavating, trusses and crawlspace stairway

Water line excavation

Stairway, window framing

Fiberboard installation

Fiberboard installation and wrap


July 2012

Framing crawlspace walls

Envelope, plumbing

Beginning of wraparound porch


Porch and ceiling

Wrap-around porch


August 2012

Wrap-around porch

Window installation

Preliminary blower door test



September 2012

Wiring, insulation, porch roof


Siding progress

Well drilled

Mechanical system installation


October 2012

Insulation of inside wall

Drywall and siding


Drywall and attic insulation

Drywall, mechanical system

Wood floors and exterior painting

Doors and cabinetry delivered


November 2012

Exterior concrete, kitchen cabinets

Upstair floors, porch siding

Painting, tiling, flooring

WKAR interview, floor finishing

Exterior concrete, crawlspace walls and floor

Crawlspace floor

Compressors, exterior lights, tile

Entrances: drive and house


December 2012

Trim work

Front entrance

Floors and windows

Exemplary results in blower door test

Walkway, bathroom vanity top

Counter tops

Kitchen back splash tiling


January 2013

Upstairs painting

Upstairs painting and trim

Downstairs door finishing

Upstairs floor finishing, water conditioner

Downstairs painting

Kitchen shelf, painting

Cabinetry trim, painting


February 2013

Cabinetry hardware

Final interior painting

First Holly Passive House Conference


March 2013

Certificate of Occupancy



December 2013

Settled in


January 2014

Winter storm


February 2014




April 2014

Habitat restoration


May 2014



August 2015