The project is built on a rural property in Oakland County Michigan in the location of a previous farmhouse that has long since been removed. This 21st century farmhouse pays homage to its predecessor in many ways, not least of which is its capacity for self-sufficiency. The 2,000 square-foot, single-family residence with detached garage and apartment is sited in a beautiful setting of rolling fields and forests. The site’s topography and orientation allow for excellent solar exposure aligned with picturesque views of the property including a pond to the south and a lake in the distance to the north. While the house siting allows for passive solar gain, the relatively cloudy skies of a Michigan winter require a balanced approach to the home’s passive solar strategy.
A building’s size and form directly impact its energy performance, use of materials, and disruption of the site. In order to optimize the houses energy performance and long-term sustainability, a simple, compact building form was created, reducing the exterior surface area and resulting heat loss. This form also echoes the regional vernacular of southeastern Michigan, with spare, low-sloped, peaked roofed structures. The south facade has an increased glazed area compared to the other elevations, but the openings are modulated in order to maintain the form and fenestration patterns consistent with the regional building typology.
The house answers the requirement that the home should look like it had always been there, an ageless quality with efficient use of space. The 2000 square foot house has three bedrooms and two full baths on first floor designed for aging in place. The second floor includes a small library with built-in shelves for favorite books and lovely views to the north of the property, a main bedroom, a bedroom space used as an office, and a generous main bath with quality cabinetry and tile work to complement the first floor aesthetics.
Designing a passive haus in the Midwest requires special attention to resolving summer latent loads. The mechanical heating and cooling was provided by two separate one-ton Mitsubishi minisplit heat pumps supplied by wall-mounted cassettes, one on each floor. An air tightness level of 0.4 ACH at 50 Pascals requires heat recovery ventilation to maintain comfort and good indoor air quality, for this requirement a Zehnder Comfoair 350 was used.