Chicagoland’s First Certified Passive House : Part 3 of 3

June-2013-ExteriorWBD’s last entry and additional Q&A surrounding Chicago’s first Passive House project:

So why wouldn’t you build a passive house?

I can’t tell you how many times people came through the house under construction at our various construction tours and after the tour asked, “ So why wouldn’t everyone build a Passive House? It seems like a no brainer.” Once people tour this type of home they realize the many pro’s of this type of construction: money savings on utility bills, money savings on maintenance, ultra comfort, super air quality, and overall extreme durability. There were a couple instances where the client had to make some compromises such as an induction cooktop and a condensation dryer. However, after living in the home, they have no complaints on the dryer, and the cooktop gives chefs much more control and even cooking temperatures in their pans. The benefits far outweigh the compromises.

Passive houses do not have to look a certain way architecturally. A passive house could look like modern, prairie style, craftsman, Mediterranean, or any other style you may like. A passive house can look however you envision your dream home. It also can be framed using many different approaches. It could be ICF, stick built, or SIPS. There are many options for designing or building. The only limit is the knowledge of your architect and builder. The design/build team for this particular house can build a Passive House in any price range, size, or style.

What are some other highlights or green features of the project?

• Diverted 96% of waste from landfill
• Used windows from old house on new detached garage after refinishing
• Used brick from old home in gabion baskets as our basement window wells
• Ambient efficient cove lighting to navigate home
• Efficient lighting throughout
• Solar Hot Water
• Roughed in for future solar PV
• No gas connection to house
• Backup Generator
• .8 gallon per flush toilet
• Low flow plumbing fixtures
• Sustainably harvested, nontoxic, strand Teragen Synergy bamboo floors
• Cork kitchen floor
• Marmoleum Basement Floor
• Electric panel wired to reduce EMF’s
• Ultra efficient minisplit heating and cooling
• Green Roof over front porch
• Siding built on ventilated rain screen system
• Smart home technology operated from single device (smart phone)
• Whole Home Audio
• Induction Cooktop
• Condensation Dryer
• Designed with Aging In Place First floor bedroom suite (ADA accessible)

How Much More Does It Cost?

With so many variables at play it is hard to say. What we can say is that a Passive House or even near passive house is cash flow positive from day one.

For simplicity sake, even if a $600,000 house costs 5% more than a code built home, the cost of a mortgage and utilities is less on a monthly basis than a 5% discounted house with normal utility bills. This would give a family more spending money on a monthly basis. You could have a higher quality home, and the savings could pay for a yearly vacation!

Other builders from across the country have built homes at the same price per square foot as their code built competitors. We are currently designing such a project as a local case study.

I Want More Info!

If you are interested in more specific information on this house click the links below.

For more information see the project blog:

This home will be open during the GreenBuilt Home Tour on July 20-21. See more info at:

Also stay tuned for time lapse video and other videos on our You Tube Channel, BuildAmericaGreen.

Subject Tom Bassett-Dilley is architect that is first "passive" house in the Chicago area… it's a house built so well insultated that it has no a/c or furnace. it's in River Forest. CCB Life 09.13.2012.

Brandon Weiss, builder of the first Certified Passive House in Chicagoland.