A house built by Kansas University’s Studio 804 class has earned “Passive House” designation for its design features that help dramatically lower its energy usage.
It is the first building in Kansas to achieve that status and one of a handful nationwide, said Dan Rockhill, distinguished professor of architecture, who coordinates the Studio 804 program.
Designers of a passive house aim to reduce heating and cooling demands by 90 percent, by using better insulation and windows.
Jennifer Mayfield, who was a student who worked on the house at 32 S. 16th St. in Kansas City, Kan., said the windows were triple-paned and special-ordered from Austria.
She said a special ventilation system transfers heat from the stale air, leaving the house to new, fresh air that’s pumped in.
Rockhill said that to obtain designation, a number of tests had to be performed, including one where smoke was pumped into the house. Students looked for areas where smoke was escaping and sealed them.
Even after the designation, the passive house still hasn’t sold on the market, even though Rockhill has taken the value down to $159,000 after initially listing it at $180,000.
It’s a difficult market for all houses, he said, and it’s intentionally placed in an area that’s struggling economically in an effort to revitalize the neighborhood.
“It’s going to take a certain kind of person who’s going to want to live there,” he said.