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Open House for Studio 804 Solar House set for June 13

Thursday, June 11, 2015

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Department of Architecture’s Studio 804 design-build program has completed its latest project, a net-zero, passive solar house. It will be open to the public 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, June 13, at 1301 New York St.

Master of Architecture students under the direction of Dan Rockhill, J.L. Constant Professor of Architecture, started design and construction of the house in January and put the finishing touches on this week. They will lead the tours.

The house is described as net-zero because it can provide for all of its energy onsite. Enough electricity is produced by a 4-kilowatt system of photovoltaic panels to offset the house’s electrical loads, although the amount of energy required is dramatically reduced through the house’s many energy-efficient features.

This project was designed to meet three different environmental building rating systems: the Living Building Challenge; Passive House Institute U.S. standards and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system.

Many factors go into meeting their requirements. The building’s site is a redeveloped brownfield, which has been planted with native plants to lessen the need for irrigation. Where paving was required, pervious materials were used to lessen the amount of runoff into the storm sewer.

Exterior wall surfaces are sheathed with cedar siding, and the steeply sloped roof is covered with specially coated standing-seam sheet metal, which controls solar loads. Highly insulated, coated glass in windows and doors allows in desirable heat in the winter while rejecting it in the summer.

Hidden inside the walls is wood-framing material harvested from Forest Stewardship Council-certified engineered lumber. An air-barrier and three times the amount of insulation make it noticeably more comfortable in all seasons, and much quieter than most homes.

Inside, visitors will notice wood walls and ceilings that have been finished with low-VOC paints and varnishes, along with slate floors and LED lighting.