DC’s First Passive House Almost Complete

by UrbanTurf Staff

Rendering of the Empowerhouse

The Empowerhouse, considered to be the first passive house built in the District, is almost complete and ready for its first occupants.

The home was originally constructed on The National Mall by a team of students from Parsons The New School for Design during the Department of Energy’s 2011 Solar Decathalon. After the event ended, work started on rebuilding and expanding the home at 4642 Gault Place NE (map) in Deanwood. With about three-quarters of the construction complete, it is hoped that what is now a two-family home will be ready for its new occupants by early fall.

Interior Construction
Exterior Construction

Passive houses (born in Germany at the Passivhaus Institut) can look modern or traditional. Designers use off-the-shelf products to keep them as well-insulated and draft-free as possible, with insulation often a foot thick and far fewer holes than normal homes. The air-tight buildings are warmed by the sun (most plan for south-facing windows) and body heat during the winter, and use expandable awnings to cut down on sunlight in the summertime, cutting heating and cooling costs by 90 percent. While the homes still require energy for appliances, the drastically reduced HVAC costs make them more affordable than their fancy name might suggest.

The Empowerhouse on the Mall this summer. Photo courtesy of inhabitat.com

The Empowerhouse will have a 4.2 kilowatt solar array that will provide all the power it needs. Because of our swampy weather, designers installed dehumidifiers and carefully managed the flow of air through the home. Compare to a typical Deanwood home, they project the home will result in $2,000 in annual energy cost savings.

Construction tours of the house will be offered this Saturday from 10:30am-1:00pm as part of U.N. World Environment Day, and green home workshops will be offered later in the afternoon at 4609 Gault Place NE. (To sign up, click here.) Developed with
 join a traditional-looking home in Bethesda as one of the first passive homes in the DC area.

See other articles related to: green real estate dc, green real estate, empowerhouse, deanwood

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dcs_first_passive_house_almost_complete/5601


  1. Fred said at 11:17 pm on Thursday May 31, 2012:

    Interesting. I wonder what base contruction costs are for a home like this?. Is there a floorplan online somewhere?

  1. Mark Wellborn said at 10:27 am on Friday June 1, 2012:


    When we reported on this last year, the Solar Decathlon site had the cost of the built prototype at around $258,000, but that did not include the expansion. We will see if we can get a better answer and a floorplan for you.

    Mark Wellborn

  1. Andrew said at 7:42 am on Tuesday January 15, 2013:

    I wonder what the square footage of the house is?

Comments are closed.

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