The rain screen system is composed of vertical boards over two layers of rigid insulationPeople often think the most important component of heating a home is the furnace. But sometimes, the furnace is secondary to other aspects of the home-heating equation. Passive homes use smart design, precise construction and techniques such as orienting the house to take full advantage of the sun, using natural ventilation and high levels of expertly applied insulation. The results are buildings that rely less on active systems such as heaters or wind turbines and produce energy savings of 60 to 70 percent on average compared to traditional houses.
The air barrier is a paper wrap that goes on before the rain screenHugh Lofting, founder of Chester County’s Hugh Lofting Timber Framing, Inc., has been building passive homes since 1974. In September, his company became one of only seven construction companies in Pennsylvania—and 58 in the nation—recognized by the Passive House Institute U.S. as certified PHIUS builders. “We’re committed to building super-insulated houses with simple, efficient designs,” Lofting says.
Builders gain the PHIUS certification by taking a four-day course and passing an exam that proves their understanding of the principles and techniques associated with passive house construction.
To learn more about Lofting’s company, visit
Story by Lauren Mandel.