In Brookings, South Dakota, a group of South Dakota State University architecture students designed and completed the Passive House 01, a home certified under the high-performance Passive House (PHIUS) standard. Funded by a housing grant from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the student-designed project was led by architects Robert Arlt and Charles MacBride to serve as a “case study house for the 21st century.” The architects said that the Passivhaus residence is not only 90% more efficient than a similar house built to code but is also the first house in the region to sell energy back to the grid. 

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dark, gabled home with few windows lit up at dusk

Located on a long-vacant infill site, Passive House 01 is within walking distance to both the South Dakota State University campus and Main Street. The airtight home’s gabled form and front porch reference the vernacular, while its clean lines and hidden gutters give the home a contemporary appeal. The 2,000-square-foot residence comprises three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms as well as a detached garage located behind an exterior courtyard.

Related: Imperial War Museum’s Passivhaus-targeted archive breaks world records for airtightness

bright white room with double-height ceilings and a wood dining table

In contrast to the dark, fiber-cement lap siding exterior, the bright interior is dressed in white walls and light-colored timber. The double-height living and dining area in the heart of the home gives the interior an open and airy feel. This openness is emphasized by the open-riser stair, which the architects and students designed and constructed from custom cross-laminated timber and solid glulam with a locally harvested basswood slat railing.

two blue lounge chairs on a lofted area

To meet net-zero energy targets, the team installed a 3.6 kWh solar system atop the garage. The home is oriented for passive solar — shading is provided along the south side — and quadruple-paned insulating glazing has been used throughout. Energy-efficient fixtures and appliances also help minimize energy use, which, in addition to air quality, is monitored through an online platform in real time. The project won an AIA South Dakota Honor design award in 2019.

+ South Dakota State University

Photography by Peter Vondeline and Robert Arlt via South Dakota State University