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Building a home up to standards required to be deemed “passive” might make some builders cringe. But when the Valle Group received such a request, it was almost par for the course. The Cape Cod, Mass.-based builder specializes in carefully planned, energy-efficient homes.
Mike Katon, Valle Group’s senior project manager, says the company had already built a passive house, and thus knew about items such as super-thick insulation and the membranes required to keep a building airtight, as well as the risk of a seemingly minor occurrence like a nail puncture in the home’s wall cavity.
Stone Fruit Farm’s north-south positioning enables its solar array to operate at top efficiency.
The learning curve for building a passive house was “probably not as steep for us as it would be for some builders,” he admits. The bigger challenge was what homeowner Hank Keating wanted the Valle Group to do with it.
“(Keating) had some very unique ideas for his one-of-a-kind home,” Katon says. Those included a lengthy solar-warmed corridor to connect separate parts of the house, an on-demand, near-instant water heating system, and energy-saving fireplaces that help control how long the home retains heat.