How We Did It


Date started:
August 29, 2009
Date finished: November 17, 2010

DOE First Grant: $213,137
DOE Second Grant: $196,800
VDMME: $169,440
Funds from FCPS: $439,000
Funds donations and discounts: $236,485
Design Builder: Adam Cohen, Structures Design/Build



    The term PassivHaus refers to a specific standard of construction for buildings which provide comfortable, healthy living conditions year round. It is considered to be passive because it heats and cools itself without an active heating and cooling system.
    The basic features of PassivHaus construction are:

  • Passive use of solar energy with southern orientation and shade
  • Good insulated exterior shell
  • Energy efficient window glazing and frames
  • Building envelope to maintain air-tightness
  • Passive pre-heated fresh air
  • Highly efficient heat recovery system (air/air heat exchange)
  • Solar collectors or heat pumps to supply hot water
  • Energy-saving appliances



1. Photovoltaic

    a. Thin Film on roof

    b. Flat Plate Stationary on Roof

    c. Tracking system

    d. Concentrator Photovoltaic Power System

      i. Date installed: January 2012
      ii. Energy output 3 kW
      iii. Supplier: Energy Innovations

    e. Dual Tracking Energy Arrays (3)

2. Wind turbines

    a. Skystream 3.7 (horizontal axis)

      i. Date installed: 11/07/2007
      ii. Tower height: 60 ft.
      iii. Diameter of rotors: 12 ft.
      iv. Energy output: 1.8 kW at 25 mph
      v. Supplier: Southwest Wind

    b. Windspires (vertical axis)

      i. Date installed: 8/9/2011
      ii. Tower height: 35 ft.
      iii. Diameter of rotors: 5 ft.
      iv. Energy output: 2.4 kW at 25 mph
      v. Supplier: Blue Sun Renew

    4. Solar Water Heater


Date Installed: 11/27/2010
Supplier: AWS Convergence Technologies Inc,


1. Denim sound baffles:

Made from recycled denim, this building material is utilized not only for insulation in the walls and roof, (blown-in) it is also used for soundproofing necessitated by the thermal mass application.

2. Jet tire carpeting:

Made from recycled jet tires, this material is recycled and is being used as a durable floor covering.

3. Counter tops:

The countertops are made from local rock harvested from the New River, and molded in an environmentally friendly matrix of resins.

4. Rainwater Reclamation:

The rainwater harvesting system at CEED consists of two 1700 gallon tanks buried in the ground. Water is collected from the roof, the permeable concrete walkway, and the surrounding wetlands. Sensors measure the number of gallons in the tanks. New water continually pushes out the old water. Fresh water is used in the sinks, showers, and the dishwasher. Greywater is recycled once for use in the toilets.

5. Daylight Harvesting:

The “daylight Harvesting” system at the CEED consists of south-facing glass that allows ambient light to flood the working areas and provide natural lighting that has been proven to be healthier and more conducive to learning than artificial lighting.

6. GeoThermal System:

A geothermal heat pump is an underground heating and/or cooling system. It transfers heat from the ground in winter and into the ground in summer using a liquid refrigerant that is circulated through long loops of underground pipe. At CEED, the slinky coil geothermal ground loop system is used. Slinky coils, rather than straight pipe, are laid out along the bottom of a wide trench. Propylene glycol, a refrigerant, is pumped through the loop system. Ideally, this system will rarely be used as the primary source of heating and cooling due to the efficiency of the CEED building.

7.  ERV:

A highly efficient heat recovery system (air/air heat exchange). All Outgoing air has its heat content exchanged with the incoming air. This is possible through a very efficient air-to-air heat exchanger built especially for the CEED application.

8. Windows:

All of the windows in the CEED have been donated by PlyGem, a local window manufacturer. They are a triple paned window filled with Krypton gas to fulfill the requirements of PassivHaus design.

9. Porous Concrete:

This new concrete product allows penetration of rainwater to recharge existing aquifers. The CEED captures this water and recycles it through the Rainwater Harvesting system to be used as greywater with all of its applications.

10. Trellis:

The trellises at CEED are permanent structures that extend from the roof overhang. The material used in the trellises is a recycled structural composite (RSC) made by Axion International from a blend of recycled plastic. The durable RSC is stronger, lighter, and will not rust, splinter, rot, absorb moisture, or leach toxic chemicals into the environment. Because it is impervious to water, insects, or marine parasites, RSC can be used in making infrastructure products for bridges.

11. Green Roof:

A green roof is a roof that is partially or completely covered with plants. A green roof can be characterized according to the weight load on the building. An extensive green roof has a lower load bearing capacity, while the intensive type can support lawns, walkways, playgrounds, and even ponds. The extensive roof is lower in cost to create and maintain, needs no irrigation, and is covered with mosses, sedum, herbs and grasses. The intensive green roof is higher in cost and maintenance, needs regular irrigation, and uses plants such as perennials, shrubs, and trees.

12. Energy Star Appliances:

ENERGY STAR is the trusted, government-backed symbol for energy efficiency helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and practices. The ENERGY STAR label was established to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants caused by the inefficient use of energy and make it easy for consumers to identify and purchase energy-efficient products that offer savings on energy bills without sacrificing performance, features, and comfort.

13. Sustainably Harvested Wood:

All of the wood used in the CEED is sustainably harvested through the auspices of the Forestry Stewardship Council. That certifies the harvesting and replanting activities of the suppliers we used.

14. Greengard® indoor air quality certified furniture:

Greenland® insures indoor environmental quality (IEQ); low-emitting, recycled content; and innovative Design.

15. Water Efficient Fixtures:

All of the water fixtures in the CEED are certified as “water saving fixtures:” which means their consumption is significantly less than conventional units. Low flow toilets, water saving spigots, showerheads, and a dishwasher are featured.

16. Sensors:

The data monitoring system records the following information: wind speed, outside and inside temperature, solar panel performance wind turbine performance, relative humidity, ERV performance, Thermal solar performance, geothermal heat pump performance CO2 levels, and rainwater harvesting performance.

17. Lighting:

Occupancy sensing is primarily recorded by the CO2 levels. Motion sensing devices control the lighting, allowing for maximum energy savings as the building is unoccupied.

18. Solar Thermal Systems:

At CEED, a closed evacuated-tube system is used. It consists of 30 elongated tubes located on the roof in two solar collectors. Because the climate in Rocky Mount can drop below 32°F, propylene glycol, an antifreeze solution, is heated in the solar collector. The heated liquid is circulated from the solar collector through a heat exchanger connected to a storage tank. Potable water is warmed by the tubes containing heated propylene glycol. The heated water then goes to the storage tanks, while the cooled propylene glycol is piped back to the solar collector to be reheated. An added benefit of this closed system is that it requires little maintenance and can also be used for heating and cooling the building through the energy recovery ventilation system.


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