June ABODE shows a better way to build


The new ABODE comes out today, and as often happens, my work on the cover story got me all reflective. Like these big windows:

Just one corner of an extremely efficient house. Photo by Ashley Twiggs.

This is John Semmelhack standing in the southeast corner of his living room. His house was built in 2008 and comes very, very close to meeting a set of building standards known as Passive House. Think of it as the next LEED. Passive House comes from Europe, where in some countries—notably, Germany and Austria—it is close to being the mainstream way to build. And it saves something like 70 percent of a building’s energy use.

Check out the story to learn how it’s done. What I was reflecting on was the fact that my own house, and millions of others, is older and leaky. I’d probably love living in a house with no drafts and a tiny energy bill, but I wouldn’t want to see my house torn down to be replaced by a new Passive House. Nor would that be a green strategy.

What I hope is that folks continue to get wise to the amount of energy they can save by making their old houses less leaky. And, if they’re going to live in a new house, that they steer clear of those built merely to code. There are too many smart builders and designers around here to sign up for a cookie-cutter abode that’ll be wasting energy now and through the next 50 years.

Read the story and tell us what you think!