Millhaus

Last week we had the opportunity and pleasure to tour the, in construction, passive home of the architect who designed our Fort Collins Project (See previous posts)!

The lecture was held at Wolverine Farm here in Fort Collins. Emu Systems, run by Enrico Bonilauri and Mariana Pickering are training and consulting with builders, aspiring builders, architects and different trades to help people learn and implement passive haus building systems. Would you like to know more about Emu Systems? Check out their website: https://emu.systems/

The tour was conducted at well known architect Greg Fisher’s soon to be home. As mentioned, Greg designed the Fort Collins project we just completed. He wanted to learn more about passive haus construction processing and certificaion and decided to go all in with Emu Systems to certify his new home. It was a great afternoon watching Greg show off not only his beautiful home but his beautiful craftsmanship! Building a passive haus is a complicated and timely process, it takes a thoughtful approach and it is clear that Greg has the desire to pursue the process with his future designs while using this time building his new home as a learning opportunity! We look forward to watching the process of his house continue and working with him in the future!

Big thanks to Fort Collins Utilities Energy Code Compliance Specialist Brad Smith, who puts on these informative and fun Green Building Lectures that bring folks in from all over Colorado! Want to know more about the Green Building Lecture Series? Check out this Link: https://www.fcgov.com/greenbuilding/

The above excerpt was from 2019 when we had the opportunity to visit the early stages of the Millhaus home designed and built by Greg Fisher. Greg took part in Emu Systems passive house trades person certification and his home build was a pilot project with Emu. Fast forward two years later and Greg and his wife are now living in this beautiful home and we had the opportunity to once again tour it during the Passive House Open House days. Greg’s design and craftsmanship shine so elegantly, and his use of interesting (bark siding) or recycled materials (brick) add to unique story of Millhaus.

There were several groups of couples all very curious about passive house at the tour and we love seeing more and more people interested in utilizing this approach in a new home build! Reflecting back on the tour the one thing that I think about, and this is something that comes up whenever we talk about what passive building or efficient building is, is how complicated the process can seem to folks. Building a house in general, even tradition home building can seem daunting with all it’s stages and parts, but it shouldn’t be! Our approach is to build simpler to build better! The more approachable the concept is, the easier it is to implement. As always, if you’re interested in discussing building an efficient home or passive house don’t be shy, reach out!

Below are few photos from the tour of Millhaus and of some details I really loved as well as a group photo. If you’re interested in more from Millhaus check out Emu Systems Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/emubldgscience/?hl=en

Big kitchen windows and providing lots of light and wonderful views!
The details on the steel accents are just fantastic
Lots of natural light!
Love this Coffee/Wet Bar with a window that looks into the living room!
I’ve been very excited to see this pantry completed since the framing tour, love the metal mesh and steel beams. This pantry is right in the middle of the home; the entryway, kitchen, hall toward bedrooms, access to garage all move around this central part and it has been designed to be such an interesting feature!
Recycled Brick mixed with the steel beams-love this rustic industrial look that was throughout and a nod to the Millhaus story!
Greg and Enrico opening up the tour with a discussion of design elements and passive house construction (I’m in the back corner with the black shirt, just enjoying the conversation!)

Efficiency

As fall settles in, so does the cold and with that comes the firing up of heating systems. Here in Fort Collins, and likely other cities, we have a TOD or Time Of Day usage rate that increases the utilities rate for electricity during peak hours. In the winter, the TOD begins at 5:00p.m. and ends at 9:00p.m., which makes sense given this is when folks are coming home after a day at work or school and the demands on the grid increase. This TOD rate is meant to encourage folks to be more conservative with and in charge of, their electrical usage during these hours. The city recommends setting thermostats at 68F, opening up window coverings during the day to allow the sun to warm up spaces and preheating the home before the 5:00p.m. rate change and then “coasting” through those peak hours.

One great advice tip that many of us grew up loving to hear from our parents, and the city forgot to mention, is to “put on more clothes” 😉

I’ve read in some local online forums how frustrated people are that these increased usage rates exist, that folks find themselves in the cold dark months layering up, cooking less and avoiding lighting up their homes in the evening-just to avoid that larger utility bill.

As the climate changes (as it always does), demands on our power grid also change. Some years electrical demands in the summer are greater than the winter or vice versa. Regardless of what the climate is doing, one thing that doesn’t change is the demand for stability in the system and this is where building smarter and efficiently is of huge benefit.

We frequently get feedback from the homeowners in our previous builds about how well their home is operating. That even on the coldest days and without a grid tied heating system, everyone is staying warm and the energy bills aren’t dramatically increasing.

Building efficiently with air tightness in mind, with good insulation, daylighting and an overall design that considers how a home is really lived in and used by it’s occupants, helps not just in the winter but also the summer and leads to a more comfortable and healthy living environment overall.

If you’re thinking about building your new home and curious about our process for an efficient home build you can find our contact information on the “Welcome!” page, send us an email and let’s talk about your project!

Let’s Get Visual!

From floor plan to built, there are many steps along the way and creating visuals is one way to help homeowners throughout the building process really grasp the concept of a homes design.

As mentioned in our previous post, we have been finding more and more ways to bring what is seen on a floor plan to life-before the building begins! Being able to see a space in more than one visual representation can be a very useful tool in determining how a space might feel once built. By creating different visuals early on, we as a team (homeowner(s) & builder) have the opportunity to discuss the likes and dislikes and make adjustments that can save on time and costs during construction.

This master closet set up was 3D printed and hand painted for a recent design meeting. It was paired with several other design components, such as a look book with a 3D photo rendering of the space and the floor plan and samples of cabinet and counter top materials.