With a super-tight envelope that earned it a rare Passive House designation—the 12th in the U.S.—this compact SIPs home is expected to save up to $170,000 in energy costs over 30 years, almost what it cost to build. As with all dwellings built to the rigorous German-born standard, the GO Home’s ultra-insulated shell and passive solar design lowered space heating demands by 86% compared to code-compliant construction, allowing for a drastically simplified mechanical system. The home’s remaining heat and hot water needs are accommodated by a 2.8-kW solar electric system and a separate evacuated-tube solar thermal unit, resulting in a near-zero-energy building that is also affordable for mainstream buyers.

The house is carefully oriented on its pastoral 3-acre site: Oversized south-facing windows bring heat and light into the open-plan public spaces and a forest to the north blocks prevailing winter winds during the area’s long, cold winters.

Architect Matthew O’Malia and builder Alan Gibson created the project as a prototype to demonstrate that near-zero-energy homes are possible at costs comparable to standard construction. To achieve this, the project team followed an iterative development process from concept to manufacturing focused on continual improvement at each stage. Each design was based on lessons learned from previous iterations for enhanced efficiency and performance and reduced design and construction costs, according to O’Malia.

“Every element from the building form, size, and types of windows, down to the solar shade details and flooring needed to work with a much bigger objective,” he says.

Despite its complex high-tech origin, the house itself exudes a down-to-earth simplicity. Exposed pine beams, locally quarried granite countertops, and stained concrete floors add warmth to the uncomplicated, contemporary interiors.

PRODUCTS: Windows & Exterior Doors: EGE Germany / Roofing: Everlast / Siding: CertainTeed / Framing: Arxx, Winter Panel / Sheathing: Huber, Winter Panel / Appliances: Bosch, IKEA, KitchenAid, Summit, The Laundry Alternative / Kitchen Faucets: KWC / Cabinetry:  IKEA / Countertops: Freshwater Stone, IKEA / Toilets: Toto / Bath Faucets & Showerheads: Hansgrohe, IKEA / Interior Doors: Brosco / Interior Lighting: IKEA, Meltemi / Exterior Lighting: B-K Lighting / Paints & Stains: Cabot, Sherwin-Williams / Flooring & Carpeting: Armstrong / HVAC: UltimateAir / Water Heating: Apricus / Adhesive: Geocel

Click here to see all the 2011 EHDA winners