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s surrey passive house front

While making great leaps forward, the modern passive house concept has intersected with historical values in South Surrey. Wanting a house that met the standards for a passive house, the world’s most rigorous efficiency standard, but also requiring a structure that would house three generations at once, the family behind British Columbia’s South Surrey passive house wanted to plan, design, and walk right along with the builders through all stages of their home’s construction. So in the spirit of family togetherness and getting their hands dirty, the family birthed a pre-fab passive house that stands up to today’s test of design and efficiency while still conforming to older values of practicality and family life.

There are many benefits to this lifestyle choice, including fewer car journeys between grandparents and grandchildren, parents and children, the benefits of being close to family, the lessening of an ecological footprint, and cost-saving shared bills. Some of these benefits are obvious, visible to the naked eye, but other benefits, like a smaller ecological footprint, need to be defined. The selection of Marken projects in British Columbia, working in combination with the engineers at Equilibrium Consulting Inc., was the perfect choice for this family to achieve their construction goals. One of the most impressive things about this combination is that the result was not only a rigidly-conforming passive house, it was a prefabricated rigidly-conforming passive house. [click to continue…]


used-solar-panel-salesmanResidential rooftop solar leases have had a good run in the market, and why shouldn’t they…? They require no money upfront for systems that cost thousands of dollars while the financial and emotional reward is immediate. Problem is (and we’ve seen it before), when a business model is built to benefit only the companies while the consumer gets a the short end of the stick, eventually, the true “advantages” of owning that solar lease inevitably percolate to the surface.

A recent article by Bloomberg “Rooftop Solar Leases Scaring Buyers When Homeowners Sell” lists experiences of homeowners who have had a solar lease and faced various challenges when attempting to sell a house. Also, having received a few personal e-mails after people have read my previous article “Secrets of Residential Solar Lease – Sweet Deal or Disastrous Rip-off?” I’ve compiled for you a few more points to reflect on because frankly, I find that most people who acquired their rooftop solar via a lease were neither informed of these issues by a salesman, neither they ever considered them themselves. Here are the five of these conversation pieces that the solar lease companies would be happy to avoid: [click to continue…]

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3_Palms_2_South net zero home

Brian Cranston is more known as a high school chemistry teacher Walter White gone bad spending his days on the meth cookout in a remote desert but in reality, he’s truly “breaking good” big time. Brian and Robin have just finished an ambitious, net-zero residential home in Ventura, CA that is worthy of an Oscar from the sustainable building community (USGBC’scar?).

When the Cranstons bought the original beachfront property, it was merely a 1940s-era leaky bungalow, which was subsequently deconstructed. Going for both LEED Platinum and recognition from the Passive House Alliance, the new home is a relatively modest 2,450 square feet, 3 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom (for a Hollywood actor). In their mission to preserve the three mature Mexican Fan Palms that were on the property for a long time, they dubbed the project – the “3Palms” house. [click to continue…]

John and Nancy in progress

Imagine you’re a green-living Goldilocks, frolicking through the eco-home industry. You try out a McMansion, but it’s just too big. You try out a tiny house, but it’s just too small. Where can you find a home that meets all of your needs but is just the right size? John Gaddo and Nancy North figured [continue reading...]

gary concol passive solar home

In 2010, Gary Konkel built what may be the most energy-efficient, passive home in the Midwest. The 2,000 square foot, two-story home just outside of Hudson, Wisconsin touts thick insulation, high-performance windows, and needs no furnace. A single solar thermal panel and a photovoltaic system are all the home needs to be net-positive; it produces [continue reading...]


O, Canada, you look so good in green. The unveiling of its eco-friendly house, Midori Uchi, has brought the limelight to Canada. “Midori Uchi,” Japanese for “green home,” is based around a simple concept interwoven with history and innovation. This high-class, high-economy award winner has snagged the LEED Canada for Homes Platinum rating, Built Green [continue reading...]

Jung passivhaus 1

The Jung House in northern Oakland County, Michigan was recently the recipient of the 2014 Best Energy-Smart Home from Fine Homebuilding magazine. Located on a rural property this 2,000 square foot home meets the strict standards set forth by the German Passive House organization, but does have the modern look that other energy smart homes [continue reading...]

Earth Bermed House New York

Once upon a time, not so long ago, in an upstate New York, on a farm dedicated to energy efficiency, a world renown architect decided to built himself a home into the side of the hill. Using the technique known as earth-berming, he built a humble abode from recycled materials, used lots of help from [continue reading...]


Ever forgot to turn off your AC or cooled the living room while working in the garage? Wish your home was already cool before you got there without leaving the AC on all day? You can purchase a brand new smart AC or look into tado° Cooling, an internet connected appliance which turns any “dumb” [continue reading...]

tah mah lah rainbow

The world of finance is associated with Wall Street, opulence, and excess, so it was a notable decision that finance big shots Linda Yates and Paul Holland would build a house to meet incredibly high conservationist expectations. The resulting house in Portoal Vallley, CA, dubbed Tah Mah Lah, takes its name from the Native American [continue reading...]