The New York Times article chronicles the experiences of Barbara and Steven Landau, who are building a 2,000 sq. ft. house to the passive-house standard in Norwich, Vermont. They had a run-in with insurance companies over the lack of a heating system and several insurers declined coverage. (Their super efficient home didn’t need a heater.) This is just one more example of the widespread ignorance that permeates the entire building/lending/insurance industry. Americans stick to their outdated methods even though some 25,000 of these passive structures that far surpass Energy Star Homes and LEED standards have been built in Europe.
To the Landaus credit, they stuck to their goal of building a super efficient house. Steve Landau said “I remember reading a book about someone in England in the 1980s who built a superinsulated house that was only heated by the body heat of the occupants and maybe a tea kettle,” Mr. Landau recalls. “I thought to myself, ‘Why can’t we build our houses that way?’ ”
The exciting thing for me is combining these energy efficient techniques with earthbag building to 1. reduce construction costs, 2. use lower embodied energy building materials, and 3. provide basic needs such as water catchment, food production and so on. In other words, what we talk about here at Earthbag Building Blog is three steps ahead of passive homes.