Building the NewenHouse Kit Home: The Heat Recovery Ventilation Unit and Insulation Installation

| 5/31/2011 7:49:05 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.  

During April and May I was absorbed with Earth Month activities and finishing up my first semester teaching MBA students a sustainability course at the University of Wisconsin. In Viroqua, we had 100 guests attend our Earth Day NewenHouse OpenHouse. Now I’m back to the blog and sharing pictures and videos with you. Thank you for your patience.

The windows are installed, the insulation was blown into the 16-inch-thick walls, the drywall is hung and now the painter Jim Green is busy painting the inside of the house before the local ash flooring and trim get delivered. David and Dan are busy installing siding and working on the detached porch storage room on the north side of the NewenHouse. I’m busy finalizing custom cabinet details, ordering tile, and sourcing brightly colored eco-friendly upholstery material. Cecil has a couple of wingback recliner chairs that are not modern enough for my liking, but they sure are comfortable and he likes them, so we agreed to re-cover them in fun, bright material.

Windows Installed and Cedar Siding Partially Installed for NewenHouse Kit Home   Photo By Sonya Newenhouse 
The windows are installed and the cedar siding is partially installed. Photo By Sonya Newenhouse. 

After the windows were installed, David and Dan installed the HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation) unit. It’s a Zehnder, made in Holland, and it’s Passive House-certified and highly efficient (92 percent). Because our house is small we wanted to get a quiet and highly efficient unit. We installed it in the closet of the guest bedroom on the second floor. Carly Coulson and Barry Stephens (President of Zehnder America) figured out a design to ensure we were adequately bringing fresh air into every bedroom and living area and exhausting the kitchen and bathrooms. With an HRV system, you don’t need extra bath or kitchen exhaust fans. 

The HRV is like the lungs of the house, breathing in fresh air continually. It’s a critical feature to the performance of certified Passive Houses. When you build a house as tight as the NewenHouse, you need to ensure that you have proper ventilation. The HRV will run from October to April, and in warmer months we hope to use natural ventilation. The window placement was designed to create a chimney effect for cross ventilation. 

Sonya describes the HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation). Video by David Romary. 

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