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Building Health Into Homes

Improved indoor air quality is one of the most important factors in building a healthier home. As today’s homes are being built to comply with stricter, more energy efficient standards, it becomes even more important to prioritize clients’ overall health. When building Chicagoland’s first certified Passive House, I had to ask myself, what good is a super-energy-efficient house if the materials used to build the house could potentially compromise the homeowner’s health? Many building materials contain toxic chemicals that can off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). Unfortunately, most people do not know that there are potentially hazardous materials in most drywall, hardwood flooring, carpets, plywood, glues, caulks, cabinets, insulation, countertops, and furniture. Fortunately, we can make better selections by choosing products that are third-party certified for indoor air quality such as GREENGUARD Gold (formally known as GREENGUARD Children & Schools), CRI Green Label Plus, or products meeting State of California’s Department of Public Health standards for VOC emissions (California section 01350).  While some certified products cost more, others do not. A Passive House is a well-insulated, extremely air tight structure built to meet the most stringent energy standard in the world, so it was hugely important to me and my client to use as many third-party certified products as possible. Just as important as building an energy–efficient, healthier home is the ability to do this cost effectively. All it takes is a builder who is truly committed to your health and well-being. Written by Brandon Weiss / Co-authored by Victoria Di Iorio Stay Tuned for Part 2 for “Building Health Into...

Chicagoland’s First Certified Passive House: Part 1

Weiss Building & Development has proudly completed the first Certified Passive House in the Chicagoland area and only the 28th in the United States. This is a great accomplishment of setting a higher bar for how efficient a home can be, without the necessity of expensive equipment. Architect and Certified Passive House Consultant Tom Bassett Dilley Architects designed the 3600 square foot home is in River Forest, IL. Passive House is the worlds most stringent energy efficiency certification that is only pass/fail; there is no honorable mention. The certification was founded in 1988 by Dr. Wolfgang Feist and the first “passiv haus” was built in Darmstadt, Germany in 1990. Since then over 30,000 certified projects have been completed in Europe and building codes in Germany are starting to adopt this type of construction as part of the code requirement. The United States is gaining traction slowly with 27 homes completed prior to WBD’s first Certified Passive House in Chicagoland. The homeowners of this Passive House decided to build a home because the house they wanted did not exist on the market. They wanted a home that was healthy, comfortable, efficient, super durable, and concrete. The Passive House approach was perfect for comfort and energy efficiency. Our knowledge, focus and air quality testing resulted in a healthier home. Insulated concrete forms (ICF’s) by Biltmore Insulated Concrete served as a perfect fit for the concrete home requirement, by providing a quick way to frame the home, a great r-value and airtightness. The durable aspect came from the level of building science and knowledge in our project team, as well as the...