California MCM Re-Envisioned: PH in Warm Climates

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Our May Project Showcase presentation by Graham Irwin explores the remodel and Passive House retrofit of a Mid-Century Modern home in Sunnyvale, California.

"For me, this started about 15 years ago with a simple question: 'How can a house be designed so that it doesn’t need fossil fuels?' I’ve been seeking to answer that question since. Having one’s head down, working hard, can make you completely focused on the next task or challenge and sometimes overlook the successes along the way. As I was preparing the slides for this presentation and analyzing the energy use data from the clients I realized something both obvious and profound - 'this really works!'The total utility bills for this remodeled high-performance house, INCLUDING charging two electric cars, were about $20/month for January, February and March, and April’s bill was -$67, meaning they’ve already paid off the first three months of the year. They should not see another positive energy bill until October, and summer solar generation should easily zero this. The homeowners are using less than 1/3 of the energy that most Californians use, and their home is also amazingly comfortable and quiet, with outstanding indoor air quality. It’s a win, win, win that cost 10-15% more upfront than a typical low-performance remodel.To put this simply, this is THE SOLUTION to our climate change challenges, and a means for living well doing it. I believe we’re nearing a tipping point in architecture, as we are with electric vehicles, where the paradigm is shifting toward a bright, sustainable future. Please tune in for this introductory presentation (20 minutes, followed by Q&A) and share with anyone you think might find it of interest." – Graham Irwin

Graham Irwin, AIA, is the principal of Essential Habitat Architecture, a northern California-based design firm dedicated to modern, high-performance homes that meet passive building standards. Graham was one of the first Passive House Consultants trained in the US, as well as a founding board member of the Passive House Alliance (PHAUS) and Passive House California. His firm has worked on numerous single-family, multi-family and commercial Passive House projects throughout California and the US, including the first certified Passive House in California, the first certified Passive House retrofit in the US, the first certified multi-unit Passive House in the US, and first certified PHIUS+ Source Zero project in California.


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