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Passive House - Year in Review

2021 was yet another year full of uncertainty and derailed plans. While the world continued to stand still, we were happy to see that the #Architecture community was striving to further its commitments to both #social and #environmental issues.


The 2021 Passive Design Competition brought together those architects dedicated to creating healthier and happier environments. They were judged on their strength in the following categories: #energyperformance, #design, #craftsmanship, use of #healthymaterials, level of difficulty for the given #climate and #site, and cost effectiveness of the affordable projects. Projects were broken into the categories of Single-Family, Multifamily, Affordable, Commercial/Institutional, Retrofit Commercial/Institutional, School, and Source Zero.


Want your very own Passive Design project, but don't know where to start? We can help!


Meet the 2021 Passive Design Competition Winners!


Single Family Winner: Gallatin Passive House


Architect: North River Architecture & Planning, PC

Builder: North River Design Build LLC


Built on the site of an existing barn and stable, the Gallatin Passive House was sited to bring new life to an aging barn. Built as a primary residence, this 3,400sf home is fully #NetZero and will achieve #PassiveHouseCertification. With sweeping views through two sets of 24ft lift-slide doors, the living space gives both the feeling of being outside with the comfort inside behind triple glazed European windows. While the lower level flows openly, the upper level boasts four bedrooms and a flexible space for homework by day and guests by night. The second floor ends perched on the original barn, connecting to it for a semi-enclosed outdoor space for gathering.


Commercial/Institutional Winner: Seminary Hill Orchard & Cider


Architect: River Architects, PLLC

Builder: Baxter

Technical Information: https://www.phius.org/projects/1385


Seminary Hill Cidery is a 2-story, 8,600 SF building that houses an organic hard cider production facility, a tasting area, a commercial kitchen, and an event space overlooking the Delaware River Valley. This new building is a modern take on a classic bank barn where the change in grade is used to provide on-grade access to both levels. The upstairs tasting area and event space capture the stunning views of the river valley and the organic apple orchard.


The lower level holds the cider production and cold storage. No chemicals or cleaning agents are used in this process. The water used to wash the fruit and the equipment is sent through the on-site grey water management system. Site lighting and signage will be full-cut-off, dark-sky compliant. Photovoltaic solar panels help off-set the equipment energy use.


The project is the first of its kind to pursue Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) certification. The key building components are comprised of insulated concrete forms (ICF), SIPS panels on heavy timber framing, high-performance windows and doors along with the continuous insulation, air-barrier and weather barrier. The stone veneer base and the vertical larch slat rainscreen provide the classic exterior aesthetics.


Best Overall Project (Tie) & Multifamily Winner : Solis


Architect: Weber Thompson

Builder: Cascade Built

Technical Information: https://www.phius.org/projects/1391


The largest multifamily Passive House project in Washington State, Solis is one of the healthiest buildings on the market. It achieves dramatic reductions in energy use, 50% less than the US multi-family median, and boasts exceptional indoor air quality with continuously-filtered fresh air for each unit. Using simple design strategies and conventional materials in innovative ways these feats were accomplished for a mere 5% construction cost premium.


Solis is located in the Pike/Pine corridor of Capitol Hill, a dense urban neighborhood in Seattle known for its arts culture, restaurants, nightlife, and LGBTQ+ community. A driving factor in design was connecting the architecture to the culture and identity of the neighborhood. A vibrant mural on the party wall titled ‘Amaterasu’, the Japanese sun goddess, grounds the building in the neighborhood’s flourishing art scene.


A striking, patterned screen “jewelbox” completes the feature corner of the block with a boutique restaurant, while creating a one-of-a kind residential entry gate.

The commercial spaces welcome pedestrian street traffic with tall wood storefront windows and daylit interiors. Retail canopies with integrated solar panels offer weather protection and dappled sidewalk shade, while hinting at the building’s energy-conscious design.


While Solis’ energy-saving measures are good for the planet, it distinguishes itself in the marketplace by providing residents with a luxury eco-living experience unlike any other with a focus on physical wellness and connection to nature.


In the units, tall ceilings and gracious, European-style windows flood the spaces with natural light and contain large operable panes for outside air. Triple-pane glazing creates an exceptionally quiet interior away from the bustle of the outside urban environment. Healthy finish materials were selected to meet the EPA’s Airplus standard, and matte surfaces are used to reduce glare in kitchens. Thanks also to the energy efficient systems, residents pay significantly less in heating and cooling bills.


Solis prioritizes resident health and wellbeing above all else. Natural and living materials and incredible daylighting are a result of an adherence to biophilic design principles. Amenity spaces are designed with a simple, modern aesthetic, and pops of living wall and wood surfaces calm the senses.


Read more about Solis Here

Find More Passive House Winners Here


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