Building A Passive Solar House in the Sub-Arctic

The Grunaus are building a super low-energy home in Fairbanks that uses solar, biomass, thermal storage, and a super-insulated shell to go entirely off fossil fuels for heating–a very new idea in this climate. This house embodies many of the principles that the Cold Climate Housing Research Center has researched and demonstrated, such as a tight double wall insulated with cellulose, seasonal heat storage, and good ventilation. In this video, homeowner and CCHRC engineer Bruno Grunau describes the design of the house and mechanical systems, and builder Jake Timm shares his experience with the unconventional building techniques.

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9 Responses to Building A Passive Solar House in the Sub-Arctic

  1. Martyn Rooke says:

    Point the camera at what he is talking about……not at him…. DER!!!

  2. Altha Dotty says:

    I am taking a course at the community college and use this book which is really excellent.If you are getting to Solar Energy, this [link here >>> ] book is a must.

  3. Kenneth Doory says:

    Wonderful project. Did you guys make more videos on this particular project?

  4. Michael Temple says:

    If you would coat the interior walls with Invisaflects you cold reflect Infra Red heat back into the room helping with costs and comfort fyi.

  5. umaxen01 says:

    Exceptional. However… You should have built the house with a 6" in-wall, in-floor and in-ceiling forced heating system. In other words a "double walled" building system with a 6" heat space which keeps the inside temperature constant with only a few candles or a stove heater inside. With such a system, your total heating area is only about 1/100of your total interior area. It's like creating an artificial exterior temperature. No real need to heat the "large" interior, just within the walls.

  6. FlatfootClogging says:

    I don't believe this house will meet "Net Zero Energy" requirements, where there is zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions annually. "Ultra-low energy house" might be more accurate. NO fossil fuels. Passive House standards, however, may be possible. Buried tank for electric generation? Sure…but if you're using a solar energy source, then the efficiency is higher with solar thermal collectors, rather than solar electric (PV) modules. The former is more complicated, though.

  7. Ned Rozell says:

    Nice! Can't wait to be warm in there while rocking a young pup to sleep.

  8. FlatfootClogging says:

    Yes – the infrastructure has been modeled after Thorsten's houses. This includes the seasonal thermal storage and solar thermal heat plant, as well as the wall design. His houses of similar design have already been proven to function year-round without the use of fossil fuels. Our goal is to demonstrate to others that anyone can accomplish the same results with careful planning and design. Thankfully, Thorsten has been a gracious consultant on this project! – Bruno

  9. campbellj20 says:

    Great work Bruno! I assume you modeled it after Thorsten's house?

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