Largest Passive House structure in the U.S. to be built in Oregon

Orchards at Orenco, a 57-unit affordable housing complex in Hillsboro, Oregon, is the first of a three-phase, three-building complex.

Rendering courtesy Walsh Construction
Rendering courtesy Walsh Construction
June 18, 2014

The largest Passive House in the nation will be completed within a year in Hillsboro, Oregon, the Oregonian reports.

The Passive House structure will be the first of three phases for the Orchards at Orenco project, which aims to construct mixed-availability buildings and provide 150 units of affordable housing.

The Passivhaus ("Passive House" in the U.S.), a concept founded in the 1990s by German physicist Wolfgang Feist, is a strict building standard that decreases energy used for heating and cooling by up to 90%. While the standard spread quickly in Europe (by 2010, the continent had 25,000 Passivhaus-rated structures), the U.S. has been slow to adopt the standard. Only about 100 Passive House projects exist across the country. 

Here are more details on the Orchards at Orenco project, courtesy Walsh Construction:

REACH Community Development continues its affordable home-building program with the launch of its Orchards at Orenco project this month at Hillsboro’s Orenco Station.

REACH, a nonprofit with nearly 1,900 units of affordable housing, is beginning construction of the 57-unit first phase of Orchards at Orenco, a three-building complex that will eventually provide about 150 units affordable housing. Phase 1 will serve families earning 50 percent or less of the area median family income, or about $30,000.

The project is designed by William Wilson Architects and Ankrom Moisan Architects; and Green Hammer is the Passive House Consultant.

The $14.5 million project is financed with $9 million in tax credits purchased by Wells Fargo Bank, a $2.4 million permanent loan with Oregon state credits and contributions from the Washington County, Meyer Memorial Trust, Energy Trust of Oregon and NeighborWorks America.

Key Passive House features include:

  • The roof will have 12 inches of insulation, about four times what is required. The light color will reflect solar radiation and help moderate the building temperature.
  • PVC-fiberglass hybrid windows will have argon-filled triple pane glazing and are designed to close tighter than more common models.
  • The building is positioned to keep the building comfortable in summer months with shading devices that allow winter sun but block it in the summer.
  • The building’s super-insulated envelope includes four inches of foam insulation under the ground floor slab.
         
 

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