Re: Passivehouse in Vermont? - Wood Stove Right on Robert!


On 9/24/09 5:43 PM, "Robert Riversong" <[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]> wrote:

If you believe that having a "Wood stove/oven to cook my apple pie and Venison stew" is essential to your vision of a sustainable lifestyle (and I would agree that it is - as Nils reminds us, hearth is the heart of a home), then you might question your choice of a building approach which is incompatible with hearth.
Nils suggestions are sound ones: design and build to incorporate the best of the traditional approaches to living lightly and well. A house with a brain but no heart is not a sustainable shelter.
- RR

--- On Thu, 9/24/09, Steven & Barbara Landau <[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: Steven & Barbara Landau <[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Passivehouse in Vermont? - Wood Stove
To: [log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Date: Thursday, September 24, 2009, 2:28 PM

I actually think Passivehaus is very simple.  The only HVAC system is a fan and heat exchanger.   

No fossil fuels, or even a chainsaw.      My concern started with trying to find the simplest way to provide hot water, and cooking when there is no grid, or spare electronic parts.     I understand my great grandchildren won't be able to build a passivhouse because there won't be foam, or high tech heat mirror glass, but we can now.

I am thinking of long term sustainability for my lifetime in the house ~ 40-50 years if I live that long.    

Even though I am an electronic controls engineer, I want simple controls,  mechanical thermostats and timers,  I will buy spares and put them on the shelf.

I don't want to rely on microprocessor control boards for anything crucial.    I am going passivehouse so I don't need any backup heat in the middle of the winter to prevent freezing.

PV will be used only for critical utilities,  HRV fans, a few LED lights, and the IPOD and speakers (only to listen to acoustic folk music).

Alot of philosophy but still no Passivhouse Wood stove/oven to cook my apple pie and Venison stew.


On Thu, Sep 24, 2009 at 2:12 PM, Barry Rehfeld <[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]">http:[log in to unmask]> > wrote:
I'd be amused about how vermonters are so loyal to sustainable, natural and the like, while snubing their noses at the unnatural and technical, in this case, the Passivehaus, if the global stakes weren't so high and need for radical change so necessary.
That means dropping family size down to three, house size back down to 1,500 square feet (tops), dropping the electric gagets in a home from the current average of 28 back down to single digits, meaning no TVs since you already can it all the computer, and absolutely getting those enlarging calorie guzzling bodies into 32 inch waist (men's) pants - or lower - and out of gas guzzling vehicles and onto bikes, running or swimming daily or walking.
Nothing personal, but do that and you'll make a much bigger difference than anything wood chip burning will do. Don't do that and at best you're laying a bigger burden on the kids and grandkids; at worst, you're writing their death certificate no matter how sustainable your homes are built.
- regards,

On Thu, Sep 24, 2009 at 6:58 AM, Robert Riversong <[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]">http:[log in to unmask]> > wrote:
--- On Wed, 9/23/09, Steven Landau <[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]">http:[log in to unmask]> > wrote:
I fully agree about appropriate technology.  What really is the alternative other than building a drafty house (uncontrolled ventilation) like the 1800's farmhouse next door or leaving the windows open?  

If, in fact, you "fully agree", then you must have a completely different definition of "appropriate technology" (as do almost all architects, builders and homeowners).
An aspect of a dissociative, addictive, self-centered and intellectually-constrained culture like ours is to see alternatives in black-and-white terms. Of course the 1800s farmhouse might still be "appropriate" if we hadn't made the mess of things that we have since then. But we have to develop appropriate options within our current circumstances (at least until circumstances drastically change, which is inevitable).

A start in that direction would be to toss out all national or international codes and standards and create bio-regionally-appropriate building technologies. Standardization, like efficiency, is an industrial value that ignores the diversity of the natural world.
Then, if we looked to our local environments for available natural building and furnishing materials, and made our personal lifestyles more natural and healthy, our homes would not be composed of and filled with so many toxins that considerable 24/7 air exchange becomes necessary. Then the primary "pollutant" would be water vapor (carbon dioxide from breathing can be recycled by house plants, which also can offer other salutary effects).
Some air exchange would still be required, of course, depending on the healthfulness of the exterior air (viz. don't build a home in a polluted environment, or clean up that environment). That can easily be accomplished, in a relatively controlled manner, with spot exhaust fans at moisture sources, such as kitchen and bath (assuming indoor cooking and plumbing is even a necessity for a healthy and happy life - there are a great number of unquestioned assumptions underlying our housing styles), and passive make-up air inlets placed in strategic locations (bedrooms and living spaces). Passive inlets, properly located, can also supply a minimal amount of passive air exchange without energy inputs and the small amount of heat loss is insignificant in a small (< 1000 sf), well-insulated house.  Additionally, an exhaust-only ventilation system is the only powered option which maintains a negative pressure in the entire house, thus preventing excessive moisture out-migration in winter, which is the source of envelope moisture damage and the basis for vapor retarder requirements.
A house envelope, built with all natural, hygroscopic materials and no vapor retarders (only well-designed weather shields on the exterior) can absorb and release significant amounts of water vapor safely, thus buffering variations in indoor RH just as thermal mass buffers temperature swings. Eliminating all plastic-based materials, including latex paints, and replacing them with earth-based finishes, also has the advantage of maintaining a high negative ion count in the interior environment, which is essential for both physiological and psychological well-being.
Straw-bale/earth plasters, cob with lime plaster, cordwood masonry, and native lumber double frames with cellulose are all appropriate building technologies for the Northeast. Ideally, a shelter would require no outside power or heat beyond what the environment and the occupants can provide themselves. And I don't include PV in that category, which is another high-tech industrial "solution" that has significant environmental impacts.
- RR