A Green Building Weekend: BIG! Tour, and Passive House in NYT

Saturday’s Build It Green! tour was a whirlwind of Portland green building, followed on Sunday by major Passive House coverage in the New York Times.  A little one-two punch for sustainable building praxis.

Passive House: Sunday’s New York Times piece, “Can We Build a Brighter Shade of Green?” features a central Vermont Passive House that is so smartly-built that it requires no furnace.  Pretty cool stuff that illustrates why we at Hammer & Hand are so excited to be part of this cutting-edge of sustainable building.

The piece mentions the higher cost of Passive House homes, and there’s no question that thicker walls do cost a bit more.  But the cost savings from avoiding large, traditional heating/cooling systems helps offset the increased building envelope cost.  Sam Hagerman (owner of Hammer and Hand and Passive House expert), points out that the house featured in the article has a complex shell that retains timber frame elements not required by the Passive House standard.  In other words, the project owners opted to incorporate expensive elements not necessary for Passive House.  Typically, Passive House projects cost 10-15% more to build than conventional homes, an investment in energy efficiency that easily pays for itself in ongoing energy savings.

Build It Green! tour:  Saturday’s Build It Green tour included a couple of Passive-Houses-to-be, as well as two groovy Hammer & Hand homes built in collaboration with Departure Design.  The weather cooperated nicely with the tour’s 1,000 green building fans.

Bicyclists arrive at “Curtis Creative Small Infill”.  Lead carpenter Steph Lynch answers questions about the home.

H&H owner Daniel Thomas hangs upstairs.  Dan Lajoie of Departure Design charms visitors.

Entrance to “Engstrom & Werlin Duplex Renovation”.  Participants hang out at the garden-level unit.

Tour-goers speak with Michelle Jeresek of Departure Design.  H&H’s lead carpenter Alex Daisley shows the kitchen.

The tour winds up at the fair at EcoHaus, where our friends at bright designlab showed samples of our Upcycled Furniture line.

Heartfelt appreciation goes to our clients for opening their homes to the tour.  And thanks, too, to the many enthusiastic tour participants and their kinds words about the projects.  It was a heady, sunny, green building blowout.


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