First Passive House breaking ground in Pittsburgh

A rendering of the 1,800 square foot, three bedroom Passive House being constructed in Heidelberg Borough by Action Housing.
Courtesy of Thoughtful Balance Inc.

A rendering of the 1,800 square foot, three bedroom Passive House being constructed in Heidelberg Borough by Action Housing.

A supremely energy efficient house with “no fancy PV arrays, wind turbines or other green bells and whistles,” is in the works in Heidelberg Borough and will be the first of its kind in western Pennsylvania.

Action Housing Inc. is in charge of the project — a three-bedroom home being built to a Passive House standard.

That’s a German system of constructing airtight buildings that need little to no outside heat or cooling sources to keep comfortable.

The agency hired Friendship-based architecture and design firm Thoughtful Balance Inc. to design the 1,800-square-foot house.

According to Michael Whartnaby, an associate with Thoughtful, the house will cost about $225,000 to construct, minus the two-car garage. An identical, non-Passive House would have cost about $200,000 to build, he calculated. That’s a markup of only 13 percent, lower than some might expect, because the standard house would require a much more expensive heating and cooling system.

Factoring in the energy savings — Action Housing predicts the annual heating and cooling cost will be around $240 — Whartnaby said his modeling suggests the owners will recoup the difference after five years.

Read more in the Pittsburgh Business Journal.

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