Gallery: Ruby House: A Modern Passive House in the Historic Avenues Dis...

The home's layout is designed to suit the family's needs while fitting into the context of the neighborhood.

The Ruby House is a modern and sustainable home located in the Avenues in Salt Lake City that is currently awaiting certification from the Passive House Institute. The site of the home was an empty lot bordered to the north by a stately 2-story Victorian and to the south by a bungalow. The new home not only had to fit within the context of the neighbors and pass historic planning approval, it also had to be sustainable.

At first, Dave Brach of Brach Design Architecture thought it would be impossible to create a passive house without a good sunny, southern aspect, but after some serious design work, they put together a plan to create an energy efficient home. The home is so efficient in fact that it is 3 times tighter than PHIUS standard minimum and 50 times tighter than average home construction. The blower door test measured .26 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals of pressure (.26 ACH50).

The home’s layout is designed to suit the family’s needs while fitting into the context of the neighborhood. The south side of the house is a low volume clad in stained Accoya Wood – pine that has been specially treated to make it strong against rot. Facing the street is a large front porch like many of its neighbors, albeit a modern concrete one. The living room is prominent and clad in brick like its Victorian neighbor to the north and is reminiscent of traditional parlor rooms. In the center is a stucco volume that contains the private bedrooms and circulation.

Materials were chosen for their energy efficiency, durability and low maintenance. The home features an ICF foundation, dense pack fiberglass insulation with exterior EPS foam, air to air heat pumps and a heat recovery ventilator. Because the home’s envelope is so tight, the project saved a considerable amount on the HVAC equipment, which only cost $5,000. Officially, the Ruby House will be the first certified Passive House in Salt Lake City.

+ Brach Design Architecture

Images ©Dave Brach


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