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By John in Twin Cities, MN on 6/21/2010


Hi - I got a book at B&N called 'The Passive Solar House' by James Kachadorian. Anyone know about this man's work, or his concept of a 'solar slab' in lieu of a basement?


His book is quite detailed and has a CD-ROM in addition, and even if we don't go with the 'solar slab' construct (in our part of the world a basement is absolutely necessary/common) he still has a wide amount of info in the text to help both prospective builders as well as contractors, etc.

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By John in Twin Cities, MN on 6/21/2010


Hi- I got a book at B&N called 'The Passive Solar House' by James Kachadorian. Anyone know about this man's work, or his concept of a 'solar slab' in lieu of a basement?


His book is quite detailed and has a CD-rom in addition, and even if we don't go with the 'solar slab' construct (in our part of the world a basement is absolutely necessary/common) he still has a wide amount of info in the text to help both prospective builders as well as contractors, etc.


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By Mary in PA on 7/3/2010


Hi John,

I have this book also. I bought it a while back, read it and set it aside. In the intervening time, I've continued to try to learn about construction and passive heating/cooling concepts, from a layman's point of view. When I saw your post, I pulled out that book again and reviewed it. It was interesting to re-read it with a few years of other reading under my belt since I first looked at it.

Overall, I am interested in using passive concepts where I can, but I will not be using his solar-slab idea. As you mentioned, a basement is also 'the standard' in our area, so right there, it removes his idea from the table. And I would be very concerned about the potential for indoor-air-quality problems in our mixed (cold winter, hot/humid summer) climate. Even the author states that this could be a concern... but then doesn't really go into details about it. I think there are other things in the book that are interesting and useful - good thermal window coverings, for example. I find reading a range of information along these lines to be very helpful in building a base of information to draw from and evaluate ideas/strategies for design/construction - even if only a small percentage of them actually end up in my house design.

Mary


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By Arne in Houston, TX on 8/10/2010


Hi Mary,

Indoor-air quality in a passive-house design is a real concern because of the super sealing of the structure. The solution to this problem would be to design-in the use of controlled ventilation, and a good system to look at would be a fresh-air energy-recovery unit as part of your HVAC system.   

A good test to do on a home while it is being constructed is a blower-door test to see how tight your home is before finishing it. This test would be performed before you install drywall or other trim, so you can easily correct leaks around window and door frames and other penetrations.

Arne


As a bit of history, the passive house theories that took off in Europe and are now coming to the USA were actually developed by the US Department of Energy during 1970's.  

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