Yannell PHIUS+

The Yannell PHIUS+ House is the first certified single-family Passive House Institute US (PHIUS 2018+) Renovation in a 14-state Midwest region, making it the first successful decarbonization project of its kind in both Illinois and in Chicago. Starting as a speculative development concept in 2017, completed in the summer of 2020, it sold on its first showing in September 2020. It has received significant press coverage, with videos of the project and a dedicated website produced to reach the greatest number of future homeowners and builders with the message that development of this type is necessary and possible.

The design team was presented with existing building and urban site constraints prohibiting optimal passive design performance and strategies, challenges which often many existing buildings face. High costs for excavation sidelined the team’s goals for sub-grade exterior insulation, which led to alternative design approaches that balanced both thermal bridging and thermal performance without compromising material durability. Chicago specific mechanical codes prevented optimal exhaust and ventilation designs leading to higher volumes of air being moved and larger pieces of equipment required.

From an early stage, the team decided to select a General Contractor that was not experienced in Passive House building. The impetus for this was to accelerate the Passive House movement by educating and collaborating with a builder that would otherwise not yet participate in this level of project performance. During this process, attention to construction detail was critical due to the all the performance verification requirements PHIUS carries.

A major goal of both the owner and design team was to use this project as a test development to determine if a template could be applied to many of the other similarly wood framed homes throughout the dense residential network of Chicago. This required an in-depth analysis of the pro-forma and cost implications on both the thermal enhancements and the additional level of air sealing required to comply with the PHIUS design criteria. This also included an exercise in leveraging innovative real estate marketing strategies in order to promote and educate consumers on the benefits of a PHIUS certified home.

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