Gallery: PHOTOS: 125 Haus is Utah’s Most Energy Efficient and Cost Effe...

The decor is clean, simple and very German - in fact, most of the appliances actually come from Germany and compactly fit into the kitchen.

Hailing from Germany, Rügemer was accustomed to a higher standard of efficient design for homes and planned to one day build the house of his dreams here in the US for his family. He set out to build an incredibly high performing home at market rate to prove that it was possible. After locating a good lot in Park City, UT he spent over a year designing and redesigning the 3 bedroom home to achieve the optimum efficiency for the right price. Working with Garbett Homes and radiant heating specialists he was able to come up with a design that relied on a high performance envelope and required only a small amount of energy to heat even in the dead of winter.

The 2,400 sq ft home is three stories with a garage and studio on the basement floor. The ground floor features a large living room and the kitchen and dining room, while the upstairs holds three bedrooms, two bathrooms, built-in storage and the mechanical room. A staircase sits in the center of the house, divides the space and acts as a light well and natural ventilation stack chimney to move air throughout the house. The decor is clean, simple and very German – in fact, most of the appliances actually come from Germany and compactly fit into the kitchen.

Solar passive design is one of the keys to the home’s successful design and energy efficiency strategy. Oriented to the south, large windows soak up as much sunlight as possible and a concrete floor serves as thermal mass to distribute heat through out the house. Small window shades block sun during the summer, but no air conditioning is required – only natural ventilation is needed for cooling. Radiant floors, sunlight, and HRV provide most of the heat needed for the house, but on cold days the efficient fireplace in the living room may need to be turned on. The R-60 walls are super thick achieved using both 11 inches of blown-in insulation and a 4-in thick insulation wrap around the exterior. 125 Haus was designed in accordance with Passivhaus standards although it won’t be able to achieve certification because of a few technicalities.

Passive solar, a tight and heavily insulated envelope, and energy efficient systems are key to the home’s performance. On top of that Rügemer has the entire house wired to monitor systems and temperatures. Accessed from a computer of the home’s tv in the living room, Rügemer can see how the home’s temperature and energy use varies over time. Even though he analyzed almost every scenario he could think of during the design phase, he’s learned even more since living in the home. For instance, he now knows he should have added more thermal mass above the garage to absorb heat from the cars after they return home in the evening. He also knows the master bathroom is colder than it should be. This is the sort of knowledge that comes after experience the space for months and watching his readings. Rügemer plans to take this knowledge and apply it to his other projects and hopes that the 125 Haus can serve as a model for more affordable and higher performing homes in Utah and throughout the country.

+ Atelier Jörg Rügemer

+ 125 Haus at the ITAC University of Utah

Images ©Bridgette Meinhold


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  1. radiantheatingco August 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Beautiful house and incredible ideas here. It is fun to see the kind of innovation that is out there for heating homes. I work in park city daily putting in radiant heating and snow melting, so I love learning about others work. Thanks for the post!

  2. andrew michler January 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    What a great little place, the simple form and unique window program seems to really work- question what requirements could it not meet to achieve passive house?

  3. tuknox January 17, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Wow. Not quite sure why these techniques aren’t being applied universally yet. If I see another energy-killing Toll Brothers development go up around me, I’m going to flip. This sort of architectural information and technology can go a long way and can even be applied to the widely popular and “neo-eclectic” style of home. Why it hasn’t yet is beyond me.

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