BRIGHT MINDED-HOME-Nov/Dec 2011
By Melissa Coleman
Q+A with Matthew O’Malia, architect at GO Logic.
The GO Home is a 1,500-square-foot, single-family, zero-energy house built at costs comparable to standard residential construction ($225,000). The superinsulated building is heated and powered by a 2.8 kW solar photovoltaic array for electricity, a 60-tube solar thermal system for domestic hot water, an electric resistance baseboard heater, and passive-solar gain. The GO Home is the twelfth Passive House in the United States and has received a LEED Platinum rating; for the past year it has been used as an office by O’Malia and GO Logic.
Q: What has surprised you about the performance of the building?
A: The amazing comfort of an interior environment that is quiet, balanced, and consistent year-round. Due to the tight envelope, the triple-glazed windows that allow very little heat out or cold in, and the existing heat being circulated by the heat recovery ventilation system, heating costs from the baseboard heater were less than estimated, only $275 a year, and much of this cost was offset by the solar PV.
Q: Which features have been less useful in retrospect?
A: We installed a buried water pipe to use for geothermal cooling in the summer, which was not successful due to condensation buildup.
Q: What’s next?
A: We’ve tried an air-source heat pump in another project and will monitor its efficiency, and if it does well, we will use that technology again. We are also interested in phase-change materials that act like a thermal mass to absorb air and regulate temperatures during heating and cooling seasons.