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FabCab coming to Camano Island

Camano Island will soon have a completed FabCab perched on the banks of Puget Sound! This two-story 2-bedroom custom FabCab is currently under construction and was designed to be a Certified Built-Green Home and withstand the climate of Puget Sound.

FabCab homes are designed as a pre-cut kit of parts, which result in very little onsite waste & very high energy efficiency. The FabCab design team adapted its kit of parts system to work with the existing foundation of the previous cabin on the site. The design was a breakthrough for the site, and the structure’s layout allows sweeping views of the water.

The clients, Linda Evans, a Certified Green Realtor with Windermere Real Estate’s Camano Island office, and her husband, John Cavanaugh, asked FabCab to design the home on its exising footprint and hired Jim Hall of James Hall and Associates, a Certified Built-Green contractor from Camano Island, to erect it. The former house was deconstructed vs. demolished, and an estimated 90% of it was either reused by other people or recycled. The Evans/Cavanaugh home will also feature a storm water management system that will incorporate a “living wall” of plants that will be watered from a hidden cistern behind the wall that has captured runoff from the roof gutters.

Additional green strategies include:

  • The pre-cut FabCab structural components reduce waste at the site and speed up the construction process, also minimizing the impact on neighbors.
  • The components provide increased energy efficiency over standard construction.
  • Highly-reflectant “cool” roofing of partially-recycled and fully-recyclable materials enhance roof durability and reduce both building cooling loads and the heat island effect.
  • Reusing the foundation reduces waste, thus minimizing the amount of new materials and embodied energy necessary to build the structure.
  • Improved air quality through the use of materials that do not off-gas such as no- or low-VOC paints, stains and glues, no carpeting in the home that holds dust, animal dander, etc. and a heat recovery ventilator that provides fresh air exchanges while minimizing heat loss.
  • High energy efficiency through the use of SIPs panels (structural insulated panels) that provide a higher R-Value insulation than traditional stick-built homes and windows with a low U-Value that provide superior insulation over standard windows.
  • Water Sense(R) plumbing fixtures that are an average of 20% more water efficient than standard plumbing fixtures.

Linda and John look forward to many years to come in their new cabin, knowing that it optimizes the enjoyment of the site while minimizing the impact on their Puget Sound site.

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FabCab explores the Passive House movement

Example of Passive House

There are so many great ideas flying around FabCab these days, it’s high time we let you in on some of the excitement. So without further ado, let’s talk about Passive House design…

This Is Passive House
One of the most exciting advances in sustainable design in Europe in the past few years is the Passive House concept. Passive House buildings require little to no energy for heating and cooling. Instead, they achieve an energy savings of up to 90% through efficient design featuring an airtight shell, super insulation, proper solar orientation, and a heat exchanging ventilation system for a healthy fresh air supply.

The first Passive House was constructed in Germany in 1990. Since then, the concept has exploded in popularity for residential and commercial buildings in Europe. In 2008, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for all new buildings in the EU to be built to Passive House standards by 2011. Passive Houses are just starting to appear in the US, with a number of pilot projects here in the Pacific Northwest.

Requirements
So what exactly is Passive House? It is a simple standard for energy efficient construction. Unlike many sustainable design standards (such as LEED and Built Green), it is a not a checklist or theoretical analysis of building performance. Passive House standards have three simple requirements, all measured after the house is complete:

– heat energy demand must be less than 4.75 kBtu per square foot per year
– total primary energy demand (including plug loads, lighting, etc.) must be less than 38 kBtu per square foot per year
– air leakage must be less than 0.6 times the house volume per hour with a 50 pascal blower door test

High Performance Building Envelope
This standard introduces a few alternative building methods into standard residential construction. The most visually obvious design element is the super-insulated building envelope. Passive House walls can easily be 12” thick, or more! Often the insulation is added to walls and roofs in layers, minimizing the amount of thermal bridging and therefore the amount of heat lost through conductance to the outside. High-performance windows are often triple-pane wood or fiberglass. And the house is well sealed with a continuous air barrier, often located within the wall to protect it from puncture.

A Little Fresh Air
Although the house is air tight, the air inside is very fresh thanks to the continuous ventilation system. Instead of relying on cracks around windows and doors for “fresh air” (like in my old craftsman bungalow), the Passive House ventilation system filters the intake air, warms it up by running it past the exhaust air, and distributes it through the house.

Passive House and FabCab
Passive House design is exciting to us here at FabCab! With energy futures uncertain and the environment in mind, we think now is a great time to invest a little up front to be less reliant on traditional energy sources. Although Passive House standards can increase the cost of construction by 5-20% over Code minimum, these upgrades will pay for themselves in ten years or less. We hope to incorporate Passive House standards into a future line of FabCab designs.

Tell us what you think – would you invest more up-front for lower heating bills in the future?

Want to know more?
Here are a couple of excellent articles from the New York Times:
No Furnaces but Heat Aplenty in ‘Passive Houses’
Can We Build a Brighter Shade of Green?

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