Building the NewenHouse Kit Home: Earning Passive House Certification

| 11/29/2011 5:32:10 PM

Sonya NewenhouseSonya Newenhouse, Ph.D. is an eco-entrepreneur who enjoys providing practical and creative solutions to help individuals and organizations live and manage green. Her firm, Madison Environmental Group, provides LEED green building and sustainability consulting services. She is also founder and president of Community Car, a car sharing organization in Madison Wisconsin. Currently she is developing NewenHouse, a business that will provide super-insulated sustainable kit homes.    

Big news. We received our Passive House Certification the first week in November 2011! This means our home’s heating and cooling demand strives to be 90 percent more energy-efficient than other homes. BRE in London certified our home, and the plaque arrived the day before the International Passive House Day Tour we held on November 12th. Scientists agree that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050 to stabilize climate change. If we’re going to take responsibility for reducing our energy footprint and prepare for the future, it’s critical to leap frog our building efficiency standards. No longer is 25 percent or 50 percent more efficient good enough—80 percent to 90 percent more energy-efficient is what’s needed.

Sonya Newenhouse holding the Passive House Certifcation Plaque 
Sonya holds her home's Passive House Certification plaque. Photo Courtesy Ellen Roney and Joe Sokal.

Ellen Roney and Joe Sokal of the Division of Wisconsin State Facilities toured the home during International Passive House Days and took this picture of me with the plaque. You'll notice a swing behind me—that's one my favorite features of our home. It hangs in the middle of our living area and provides countless smiles (especially for the neighbor kids), along with stress relief and indoor exercise during Wisconsin winters. 

At the 6th annual U.S. Passive House Conference in DC this year, I learned from a keynote speaker that in Europe many countries are establishing regulations requiring all new homes be built to Passive House standards by the year 2015 and beyond. At the conference, I was also reminded about the added difficulty in achieving a Passive House certification in a cold climate with a small home, so Carly Coulson (the Passive House consultant) and I are particularly pleased to demonstrate this achievement with the NewenHouse prototype. For the Passive House enthusiasts reading this blog, the heating degree days in Viroqua, Wisconsin, are 7795. 

We’re the 25th home to be Passive House-certified in the U.S., and the second home in Wisconsin to be Passive House-certified, after Tim Delhey Eian’s "House in the Woods" in Hudson, Wisconsin. Congratulations to Tim.  

6/2/2014 8:05:15 PM

Sonya, I was so excited to find your Passive House project! It's exactly what I've been looking for. I'm looking forward to following your progress. Jim White Lake, Michigan

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