Developing Super Efficient Passive Residential Buildings: Experiences from Building Utah’s most Energy-Efficient and Cost-Effective House

By Joerg Ruegemer.

Published by The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The paper reports on an energy-simulation-based integrated design and construction process for an up to 90% energy-efficient passive residential case study located in the Utah cold climate zone that was constructed at market rate. Located at an altitude of 7,000 feet, 125 Haus is a compact sized, 2,400 sq.ft. contemporary architectural residence in the Park City area of Utah. The author is the architectural and research leader of an integrated design and construction team that included the general contractor and construction manager, the structural and mechanical engineer, ITAC—the Integrated Technology in Architecture Center at the University of Utah, and the building department of the jurisdiction. Different to the standard, linear design process for residential buildings in the US, the applied IDP (integrated design process) for 125 Haus allowed for constant feedback between team players during the design development and construction process, which was the major prerequisite to become energy efficient and cost-effective at the same time, and to achieve the highest possible market-transferability. With more than 35 energy simulations conducted for energy efficacy and energy-efficient components, 125 Haus’ design process was essentially supported through the employment of energy-modeling software. With rigorous emphasis on a passive design strategy, 90% efficiency over the IECC 2006 code compliant standard was achieved in the simulations. By focusing on standard products and materials of high quality, coupled with common construction methods and the integration of a production builder into the design process, the author expects a broad implementation of this strategy into residential design processes and the future housing market in Northern Utah and beyond.

Keywords: Energy-efficient and Cost-effective Housing, Integrated Design Process, Project Collaboration, Cost-effective Design Methods, Market-transferability, Lessons Learned

The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.77-93. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.166MB).

Joerg Ruegemer

Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Joerg Ruegemer graduated with a Master’s degree in architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles after he received his architectural diploma in Germany. He is a licensed architect in Germany and eligible to practice in all the countries of the European Union. He worked for offices like Frank O. Gehry, Anshen+Allen Architects, and Bothe Richter Teherani, before he established Atelier Joerg Ruegemer in Berlin in 2001. Between 2004 and 2008, he was professionally active in China where he ran an architectural office in Shanghai with partners from Berlin. The firm’s focus was on energy efficient buildings and architectural concepts that included sustainability as an integral part of the design process. Joerg’s professional work includes projects on three continents, and participation in international competitions with 13 placements and awards. In recent years, and after moving back to the United States, his research focus has been on energy efficient and sustainable buildings both in his professional and educational career. He has taught at several universities in Germany and the United States. His appointment at the School of Architecture at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where he teaches sustainable architectural, brought him to Utah in 2006.