Design Matters: Hudson Passive Project/ Dennis Wedlick Architect

Inspired, in part, by the Iroquois “long houses” that peppered the Hudson Valley landscape for centuries before modern A/C, the building is essentially one big rectangle with a high ceiling, and that’s no accident. Simple and economical to build, this form works in tandem with a large, south-facing window wall to make the most of what nature provides. In winter, the cathedral ceiling affords extra volume space to retain the sun’s heat. In summer, those same tall ceilings—combined with strategically placed skylights and operable windows—allow warm air to vent up and out when the house is open to the breeze. The plain box has other advantages, too. Its simple shape minimizes the number of joints in the envelope, reducing the potential for air leakage. “Simpler building forms also allow more compact mechanical runs,” Stratton points out. When duct, plumbing, and electrical runs are shorter, less energy is lost during transmission.  Via Builder Magazine.

Nestled in seven pristine acres of Hudson Valley forest, this intimate little spec home is sustainable, but not in the way you might think. It has no solar panels, no geothermal system, and no wind turbines, yet it’s expected to consume only one-tenth of the heating and cooling energy used by the average three-bedroom home. How does it work? Think of it as a 1,650-square-foot version of that super-insulated bottle that keeps your coffee hot or your iced tea cold, except in reverse. Its ultra-tight shell keeps extreme temperatures out, most of the time with little to no mechanical intervention. And its main power sources are things nature provides for free: sunlight, shade, earth, and breezes.