I am looking into the whole Passiv Haus concept with a Timber Framed house in the LakeTahoe Area of California. My greatest interest has been Passive solar but that was before this 'net zero energy' thing started to get more air play. My questions are:
Jim, these days, a well functioning house incorporating some passive solar, good insulation, and good infiltration barriers will cut your heating costs in half without appearing to be a solar machine. A typical well constructed SIP house on an ICF or other well insulated concrete foundation will save much energy. If you can keep the house nice and warm during the day without heating, then a little heating at night does not upset the balance of nature.
Also, I have found that the cost of heating with a hydronic floor is not less expensive to operate, but rather is used because it is a nicer quality of heat, without a lot of sound and drafts. Even so, you will need interior fans to prevent pockets of moist air from forming, and a ventilation system (air to air exchanger).
If you design the house to frame your views to the outside, and balance the elevations on the outside, you will do fine. You can increase or reduce the passive solar gain with roof overhangs and proper orientaion. These basics of passive solar suit many design styles.
In the Lake Tahoe area, half the battle is to not overheat in the summer, while catching quality light in the winter. I avoid roof glazing other than a few well placed skylights for the purpose of lighting otherwise dark interior spaces, saving power. Judd Dickey, Architect
Jim, Judd is right on target.
A home should be designed to live well and to sit well on the site. Then incorporate appropriate energy saving technology/design into your home. You'll end up with a home that is comfortable, efficient, and beautiful.
Goshen Timber Frames
Excellent advice. One could build a checklist from your recommendations.