Evanston Passive House

Evanston, Illinois


This modern home, located in one of Evanston’s historic districts, is designed to Passive House standards, one of the most rigorous building certifications for comfortable, energy efficient, and resilient homes. With tight construction and a highly insulated envelope, Passive House buildings operate on just one tenth the energy of an average home. It will be Evanston’s first certified Passive House.


The design was carefully reviewed and approved by the Evanston Preservation Commission. It had to relate to the existing neighboring homes, which ranged from 100 to 130 years old. This was accomplished by carefully aligning the design’s various design elements, heights and proportions to its neighbors.


The key feature of the first floor is the wide open floor plan that runs from the front to the back and highlights the centrally located Valcucine kitchen, which is manufactured with sustainable features and materials. The family room at the end of this open space features an extremely realistic carbon free ‘vapor’ fireplace in addition to a dramatic vaulted ceiling.


From a floor plan standpoint, the home is designed for aging in place. It features a first floor office that can be used as a bedroom suite, with larger doors and wider hallways. A large workout room opens to the backyard patio. Upstairs are three bedrooms, two bathrooms and the laundry.


The exterior has a ‘light shelf’ on the south and west sides of the rear of the house. Light shelves shade the interior from the high summer sun while allowing the low winter sun to come in and heat the interior. Sunlight hitting the top side of the light shelf is redirected to the ceiling of the family room, providing great daylighting deep into the space.


The home is all electric, without a natural gas line. No gas line = no fossil fuel emissions. The home has a 12.6 kW solar array, which makes the home ‘Net Zero’, meaning that all of the home’s power, on an annual basis, is provided by the solar array. A battery back up system smooths out the solar power generation so it lasts beyond just when the sun is shining.


The home only has a crawl space to minimize the use of concrete in the foundation. The footings and foundation walls use CarbonCure – a more sustainable concrete that is injected with CO2 and less cement – which reduces the concrete’s overall carbon footprint by up to 10%.