To win the coveted Passive House Institute certification, Valle had to make supreme use of the sun. Large windows on the south side allow for maximum solar gain. On the north side, windows are smaller to reduce the impact of cold air.

A precise energy-efficient system introduces fresh air into the house in a very controlled manner. “Most of the energy that the home consumes is from the sun,” Valle says. Photovoltaic and solar thermal panels provide hot water and electricity. Increasing the insulation are custom-made triple-glazed windows and French doors filled with krypton gas. Except for the windows, all the home’s products were bought from local suppliers and vendors.

The house, with its small footprint amid a landscape of indigenous wetland plants and a lush organic garden, looks like it sprouted on the spot. When your project has nature as a partner, amazing things happen.

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Mary Grauerholz

Mary Grauerholz is the communications manager of the Cape Cod Foundation and a freelance writer.

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