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Fishtown Passive House

The Fishtown Passive House was developed on a long-vacant lot in a Philadelphia neighborhood that is seeing a great deal of new construction and revitalization. To maintain an aggressive sales price of $325,000 for this 2,000 square foot, three-bedroom home, designers Re:Vision Architecture and builder/developer Mark Hutchinson of Archetype Properties (who is also a Passive House consultant) worked diligently to keep construction details simple. For example, costs were shaved by sharing one set of supply ducts for both the Goodman mini-split heat pump and the Zehnder heat recovery ventilation system.

The house features double-stud walls with Roxul mineral wool insulation, plywood sheathing sealed with ProClima airtight tapes and vapor control membrane, triple-glazed Intus uPVC windows, and a 2.5kW solar PV array. These features all contribute to making it net-zero energy for core operations. The solar system was installed by the developer and a carpenter in a single day using the simple Renusol solar PV mounting system.

Despite the cost-conscious design, some key details were incorporated to make the home feel vibrant and inviting, such as a central open staircase, deep windows suitable for plants, an insulated basement, and windows raised five feet above the ground floor so the residents can see out and be connected to the street, but not require window shades for privacy.

The Passive House details were a key factor in the quick sale. In fact, the buyers included a clause in the sales contract that the home must achieve airtightness of 0.6 air changes per hour. Thankfully the final blower door test result came in at 0.5, and the house was certified by the New York office of Ireland’s Passive House Academy. This all electric home is extremely comfortable year-round, with total utility bills averaging just $50 per month.

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