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This is a thermal image of a conventional framed home, The bright orange color represents loss of heat (also known as your money!) A typical 2 by 6 wall with R-19 insulation has a much lower value because each 2 by 6, header, top and bottom plate and rim joist has an R-value of about 1 per 1 inch of wood. The effective value is about R-12. It is also very difficult to make a conventional frame home completely airtight, another significant source of energy loss.

This is a thermal image of an ICF home, as is quite evident this home has a much lower heat loss. The only really serious heat loss is the windows and doors, and the slab. (we have a solution for that!) There are three forms of heat loss or gain. Convection, heat carried in the air. Conduction, heat passing through a solid object. Radiation, Invisible heat waves. To build a super-insulated house all three must be considered. 


Are ICF buildings Strong? Look at this picture of about the only oceanfront building to survive the Katrina hurricane disaster in Biloxi Mississippi, and for a lot more info on how to build in a hurricane prone area go to 

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This is what most of the wood frame buildings looked like after the hurricane

Construction cross section, super insulated house.

When designing any structure proper building orientation should always be considered to take advantage of passive solar gain, prevailing winds for cooling and natural lighting and ventilation for all rooms.


This is the prototype first super energy efficient building for the University of Nevada, Reno at their lake Tahoe facility. We provided the high performance windows and worked as a consultant during the design phase and laying up the ICF block

Building dedication ceremony for the University of Nevada building at lake Tahoe. This is a great project as it will serve as a working laboratory on sustainable building for the students.

Durisol is one of the first ICF blocks which was invented in Europe at the end of World War 2 and it has many advantages. It is a natural building material made out of mineralized recycled wood chips and mineral wool insulation. The design of the block with the insulation to the outside of the wall puts more thermal mass to the inside of the home.

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Passive Solar Durisol Home Under Construction.


The Hurst construction crew checks the building footings for proper solar orientation with a compass.

The footings have been dug and the re bar and the screed board is in place and we are ready to pour the concrete.

Fill the footings with concrete and level to the bottom of the screed board.

Stack the block.

Filling the wall with concrete.


The Hurst construction crew is installing under-slab insulation. This will greatly reduce energy loss into the earth, And also allow for a quicker response time for the in-slab radiant heating system. Note that the insulation goes all the way to the Durisol block on the edge of the building so there is no thermal gap.

The Hurst construction crew installing the radiant heating system in a passive solar Durisol home.

Terrafoam is totally inert expanded polystyrene, R-value 4.0 per inch. This product can be used as an above grade insulation, under stucco or siding, roof insulation systems and below grade under-slab insulation.


This chart shows that in the case of an uninsulated heated slab almost half of the purchased energy is lost into the soil. The insulation of the slab with 2 inches of Insulworks EPS will greatly reduce this heat loss. In the case of very moist soil below the slab this loss would be even higher! 


This is a job site in Austria. they are building with hollow bricks with insulation on the outside. Energy efficiency is very important there. The windows and doors are super insulated with triple seals making this a very airtight structure. The standard wall thickness is 14 inches.


This is the profile of a European window, quite possibly the finest windows in the world. Note the triple seal system, this is a positive seal meaning the seals are compressed with multiple cams on the window frames. The exterior aluminum sills available in one inch increments allow you to recess the window in to the ICF wall. Special adhesive vapor permeable sealing tape is used to install the windows (Bosig) in addition insulating foam is used to gain full r-value right up to the wall.

Tilt & Turn Windows

Super-insulated passive house window. This window is triple glazed with I-Plus 3CS glass, krypton gas fill and two low-e thermal function layers. The window unit also has four air seals

This is an example of an exterior roller shutter system. The shutters are made out of powder coated hollow aluminum filled with insulating foam. When closed this system will effectively almost double the efficiency of the window system. It can also be used to regulate the amount of heat received from passive solar gain. The shutters can be hooked up to a thermostat to maintain a constant temperature in a passive solar home.

Wind power is useful at many sites and can produce a significant amount of power (photo courtesy Sunfire research).


Power inverters and control room this is a grid tie system meaning we are hooked up to the power grid and we can sell power back to them! (photo courtesy Sunfire research.)


Two 1620 watt solar tracking arrays and a wind power power supplement make up the complete system. (Photo courtesy Sunfire research.)


Custom home built by Hurst construction in Sonora California incorporating many state of the art features including a 5000 watt grid tie photovoltaic system, on demand water heater with a manifold plumbing system, radiant heat and super energy efficient windows and doors. 

Static solar photo-voltaic system needs 50% more panels

A simple power inverter for a grid-tie photovoltaic system

This is an example of a Bosch Aquastar on-demand water heater combined with a Vanguard manablock manifold plumbing system. this is the most energy efficient way to heat and distribute water (photo courtesy hurst construction)

The Aqus system is an excellent water saving device, about 40 percent of all domestic water consumed is used to flush toilets. The Aqus system reuses grey water from bathroom sinks to flush the toilet. An average 2 person household can reduce water usage by about 10-20 gallons per day or approximately 5000 gallons per year.


Radiant wall heating systems are very popular in Europe. The coils can be hidden behind the wall surface. The home is much more comfortable without the constant fans of a forced air system. 

Radiant heating for your bathroom doubles as a towel rack, towel warmer and dryer. Provides great warmth and comfort in the bathroom.

A modern wall panel radiator.

This is a wood pellet fired boiler system. The boiler can provide all of your domestic hot water and radiant heat for your home. Wood pellet fuel is a domestically produced renewable fuel source which is co2 neutral. The boiler can be fed from a pellet bunker by means of a screw auger.

This is a schematic of a pellet fired home boiler system, note the bunker and auger feeding system. In Europe pellets are delivered in bulk similar to a propane delivery in the USA. We know it does not make much sense to use a natural, renewable, co2 neutral energy source of which we have an huge supply of in the USA, but we thought in might be of interest.

A small pellet stove will easily heat a super insulated home, using a locally produced,co2 neutral renewable fuel source. With proper building orientation and passive solar design it will seldom be needed.



This diagram shows the natural cycle of using wood pellet fuel to heat your home, the impact on the environment is much less than using a fossil fuel source. A super-insulated home requires a much smaller fuel input to stay warm (and cool) than a normally constructed home.


A bulk delivery of wood pellet fuel in Austria, similar to a USA delivery of heating oil or propane, only this is a renewable fuel source. 


GFX installation in a office building in New York City.


'Lifebreath clean air furnace . The HRV brings in fresh filtered air while recovering the energy from the stale air exhausted from the home. An HRV is a necessity when building a super insulated airtight home. The unit is rated at 95% efficiency meaning that it recovers nearly all of your homes heat or coolness as it removes the stale air.  

Tuolumne, CA Phone: (209)743-2638 E-MAIL: Chris

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