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Minnesota's High-Tech, Net-Zero House

  • Posted by Neil Simonton on April 20, 2011 in Architecture
  • In the middle of winter, Isabella, Minnesota may as well be the Arctic. The town sits at the north end of Lake Superior, twenty miles from the Canadian border, in one of the coldest regions in the continental United States. But inside the Isabella Eco House, there are no cold drafts, no freezing tile floors, and no hum of the furnace. In fact there is no furnace at all.

    This is the home of Dr. John Eckfeldt and his wife, Nancy Schultz, a LEED-accredited architect whose firm Compass Rose was responsible for designing the net zero residence.

    The design combines common sense energy-saving features (south-facing site placement; ultra-thick doors, windows and insulation) with high-tech active systems (solar heat collector vacuum tubes; a photovoltaic setup on the garage roof; an experimental solar thermal storage system) to attain the vaunted Passive House certification.

    The home is so airtight that the owners have had to adjust their living habits. "If it gets too hot you have to train yourself to open a window in winter," says Dr. Eckfeldt. "After all, you aren’t paying for the heat."

    (via Globe and Mail)


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