We couldn't be more excited to start our first Passive house project!
HINGE is committed to high-performance building and the PHIUS program is one of the best in the world! With about 50,000 buildings worldwide that have qualified to this kind of standard, it shouldn’t be too tough, right? Problem is that the U.S. lags greatly behind the rest of the world in building to high standards. Basically we started building temporary housing after WWII, and have never stopped. Most buildings today are a little bit better than in the 1950’s but really we just make cheap buildings look fancier. So, finding qualified contractors, materials and components is extremely tough. The Passive House program consists of very strict air sealing, thermal bridge, and minimum energy usage requirements. In addition, there are requirements for water and material usage as well. The rigor of this program forces you to build a better performing, longer lasting, healthier & far more maintenance-free building, and that is what HINGE is all about!
We are also committed to leaving buildings where they are whenever possible, a tough thing to do in our increasingly dense urban setting! By not razing the building, we save much of the building from the garbage dump, and do not put a giant scar in the neighborhood while we build the new structure. No one’s neighbor wants a giant mud pit next door for 7 months. Also, we save all the embodied energy in the foundation, structure and walls that are saved, left in place, and re-used. Even if they are ‘recycled‘, it takes energy to pull it out, truck it across town, and add more of the same material back onto the same site. We believe in saving buildings, not smashing them.
When I grew up here in Portland we had an 800sf house on a 5,000 sf lot. Now that is a pretty rare ratio, and many builders are covering up as much of a lot as they can legally get away with. Pushing buildings to the sidewalk and squeezing right against the setbacks! Simply put, If you build away a backyard, you take away a bit of the natural world (pretty simple, huh?).
Besides being habitats for migrating birds, and homes for flora and fauna, they provide the space for things like Tree Forts & Firepits (who doesn’t want those?!) The first thing we do when we design all our projects is get on the site! Then plan the building to focus on the nature there, whatever it is. The more natural space you have the more likely you are are to engage with it daily, and we all need that to keep us grounded…literally!
We started this project looking to make a difference in the build community here in Portland. After many months of design, energy modeling, bidding, research and the occasional panic attack, we are finally ready to start the physical build on our first Passive House project. We hope you will come back and check out our progress regularly, and let us know what you think!
…OK, Back to Work, now!