Settled inWednesday, 18 December 2013

We’ve been comfortably situated in our home for three seasons, from the vernal equinox to almost the winter solstice.The house has performed admirably, meeting our expectations for energy consumption and comfort through hot spells in summer and some recent cold snaps. We were snug as bugs during a particularly violent storm in June. The architectural layout has been a joy — all main rooms have nice views and lots of light. The twelve inch exterior insulation wall provides a deep overhang that in summer keeps direct midday sunlight from entering the south facing windows, while in winter the low light bathes the rooms.

Winter morning

Morning view from driveway

Morning view



Top of stairway

Various upstairs rooms



Upstairs bath

Guest room

Guest room

Downstairs bath

Downstairs bath


Dining area with carriage company workbench table



Aaron Brown

Hay field


Brilla patrolling wrap around porch

Nancy and Jerry Frost on bench Jerry made and gave to us

The house has the distinction of being Michigan’s first Passive House by virtue of its certification by the Passive House Academy.

As expected, the two minisplits that provide cooling and heating are seldom used at the same time. In summer, we ran the upstairs unit in dehumidification mode and only a couple times ran the lower unit in the same mode. So far this heating season, we have only used the downstairs unit. In spring and autumn they are simply not used.

The energy recovery ventilator runs day and night, quietly refreshing the air at the rate of one house change every three hours. This system uses a cross-current heat exchanger and moisture element to maintain the interior temperature and humidity. Having an appropriate humidity level in wintertime is a real pleasure — no shivering when stepping out of the shower in winter!

We’ve had the pleasure of making new friends who have an interest in this kind of home and we look forward to following their progress with similar projects. Several weeks ago we enjoyed hosting an energy auditing class from the University of Michigan-Flint that came armed with a blower door apparatus and thermographic camera to study the house.

The combined kitchen and parlor space has proven to be a great place for gatherings. During the warmer months we use the wraparound porch for reading, meals and hanging up clothes to dry. In the colder months, we dry our clothes with a condensing dryer; a key benefit with an unvented system like this is that all of the energy used goes toward heating the house.

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



February 2017

Life in a Passive House


December 2017

Are passive homes the future?