zola blog

Case Study: Skidmore Passive House

March 6th, 2015  |  Published in Featured Projects


Located in an existing neighborhood of post-war houses, Skidmore Passivhaus merges contemporary design with the highest level of energy efficiency. Providing a true live / work condition, two separate buildings address the program requirements while creating a unique indoor / outdoor space between. High levels of insulation, extremely airtight construction (tested at .32ach50), high performing triple glazed european windows, and a super-efficient heat recovery ventilator allow the structure to meet the stringent requirements of the German Passivhaus standard. Generous amounts of south facing glazing (.5 shgc) maximize the solar gains for most of the year, while motorized exterior aluminum shades can be lowered to block unwanted summer heat gain resulting in extremely comfortable temperatures year round. An extensive green roof helps manage all stormwater on site, while a roof mounted 4.32 kW PV array provides enough electricity to result in a near net zero and truly sustainable building.

Design challenge:
“The challenge with this project was to create an affordable contemporary house in an existing neighborhood that meets the Passivhaus standard,” says Jeff Stern of Portland, Oregon’s In Situ Architecture.

What makes this project outstanding?
“The house is simple in form, modern yet modest, filled with light and color, and is extremely comfortable and energy efficient.”  Stern’s personal design focus for this project was to merge contemporary design with extreme energy efficiency.

What are your some of your favorite construction products used on this project?
Stern says, “The ebony stained rough sawn cedar siding, the unfinished steel stairs, the fir plywood cabinets, the cement plaster bathroom walls, and the pops of bright color.”

What product line did you use from Zola for windows and doors?
“The ThermoPlus triple-glazed clad wood, for the durable clad exteriors and beautiful wood interiors, the exceptional energy performance, the ability to provide very large sizes, and the competitive pricing,” adds Stern.


What is your favorite Zola product?
“While the lift and slide door is amazing and so easy to operate, I really love the tilt and turn balcony door. It’s a key part of our cooling strategy in the summer and allows us to use the door tilted open for ventilation while remaining locked and secure.”

What do you like about Tilt-Turn windows?
The tilt-turn windows have many benefits including the ability to use external blinds for shading while still allowing the windows to open for ventilation, and the ability to tilt open for ventilation while remaining completely secure.  They also make cleaning a breeze,” says Stern.


Did you install any large opening glass walls such as a lift-slide, patio or folding door?
 “We have an 8′ tall by 11′ wide lift-slide door connecting the living room to the south facing deck and back yard.” Most of the windows face south looking out to the back deck, yard and garden. There is a small window in the Master Bedroom looking out to the green roof.


in situBio: Based in Portland, Oregon, In Situ Architecture was formed in 2008 by Jeff Stern.  A licensed architect in Oregon since 1996, Jeff earned his Master of Architecture from the University of Oregon, and a Bachelor of Environmental Design with Honors from the University of Colorado in Boulder.  A LEED accredited professional since 2002, Jeff has been a Certified Passive House Consultant since 2012 and completed his first certified Passive House in 2013.

Website: www.insituarchitecture.net

Design & Planning: Jeff Stern of In Situ Architecture
Window & Door Package: Zola’s ThermoPlus Clad line with Jet Black aluminum cladding (Quardrat) and a clear stain on the interior finger-jointed pine.