Bag End: A Passive House. Huh?

Thanks for stopping by. Just a few short comments this week.

If you read the bar title “From Hobbit  Shed to Hobbit House” you would have come across a sentence or two mentioning that a Hobbit House would be considered an earth sheltered passive house.  An earth sheltered home is obviously a home with some form of soil as its cover. There are a wide range of what some would call an earth sheltered home. There are also quite a few products that architects use to call the roofs on their structures “Green”. So I think we can all agree that  Bag End would be an earth sheltered home.

Calling a home a passive house is another thing altogther. The passive house standard is, in my opinion, the state of the art in building technology. It is a construction standard that was developed by a German physicist named Wolfgang Feist in the 1990’s and is just catching on in the US today. In order to claim that your house is a passive house the home must meet certain requirements. If it meets these requirements then it can be passive house certified by the Passive House Institute. I will be trying to meet these requirements as I build Hobbit Hollow.

I’m not going to get into the nuts and bolts of the requirements but basically a passive house has these attributes: 1.Low air infiltration. 2. Super insulation 3. Triple glazed high performance windows and exterior doors. 4. Energy recovery ventilation. 5.Elimination of thermal bridges.

These items when combined together properly will result in a home that uses 90 percent less energy than a new typical home built today. That is probably hard to believe but it is true.  This is what we are going for with this project. I am very excited about getting started.

As we go along on this project I will delve into each of these attributes from time to time.

This past week I had the opportunity to attend a conference sponsored by the Journal of Light Construction. It was called JLC Live and was held in Providence, Rhode Island. The session I went to was about building to the Passive House Standard and was given by a guy named Chris Corson. He built a passive house in Maine and is currently working on a few others. The Maine house was featured in The Journal of Light  Construction last year in the May and June issues. It was very helpful for me to hear a guy like Chris speak about the nuts and bolts of passive house construction. Without getting too technical I have always felt that this Hobbit  House we will be building will be an excellent fit for a passive house. We will see!

Just a quick update. My building permit was approved this past week and the electric utilitycompany connected my meter. I hope to lay out the footings next weekend! Of course I picked up the DVD of “The Hobbit”  Friday at Best Buy.  Whoever designed Bag End is a genius. I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in a house like that?

To the free folk of Middle Earth enjoy your week!



9 thoughts on “Bag End: A Passive House. Huh?”

  1. Hi Jim,

    Congratulations on a very fun endeavor. Just a quick note if your readership is interested in learning more about passive house we have a tremendous amount of insightful information at Passive House Alliance United States website. Case Studies, Articles, Videos and how to get involved in a local chapter.

    Mark Miller
    Executive Director
    Passive House Alliance US

    • Mark: Thanks for writing! I will be stopping at the website soon to see what I can learn. Any info that will help is always much appreciated! Thanks again.


  2. Just wanted to say how impressed I am with what you’re doing. Both your Hobbit Shed and your website are very appealing. I’m also impressed that you’ve managed to do this with the approval of your building code inspector! Imagining a project is one thing, but actually making it happen is quite an accomplishment.

    If I may, I’d like to let you know about a book I’ve just released called Home Sweet Hole, a collection of ‘feasible fantasy’ floor plans for earth-sheltered homes in the Hobbit tradition. It’s available now as an ebook through Amazon, and the paperback should be ready within a couple of weeks. I should emphasize that this book is strictly for the “imagining” phase of the journey. The plans are just for inspiration. They aren’t construction documents. But I call them ‘feasible fantasy’ because each has the potential to become build-able. They’re schematic sketches, drawn to scale, with all the basic amenities.

    I’ve loved the concept of green building since majoring in Environmental Design at the Texas A&M College of Architecture, but in over 30 years as a residential designer, I’ve never seen the level of interest as high as it is now. Maybe the LOTR and Hobbit movies are helping people envision what’s possible and how charming low impact housing can be? I don’t know for sure, but I’m glad the “round doors” are opening for energy-efficient solutions!

    Thanks for letting me spread the word about my new book. I wish you all the best with Hobbit Hollow and look forward to following the progress of your construction.

    • Dear Lynn: Thanks for leaving a comment and thanks for sharing your work with the rest of us.It’s great that you put something like that together so that people can see real world housing options. Good luck with it!


      • Hello everyone.Since you’re waihntcg this video, I’m sure people like you and me are trying to create a huge amount of income at the comfort of our home. Be careful though, some of the online business that you come across are scams. How’d I know? I was scammed before and thus from then on, I make sure I check out the programs before joining. So if you want to know which business is legitimate or not, check out my page. I hope you made an informed decision by then. Thank You.

  3. Hi Jim,
    I just now was sent a link to your web site by a friend and I am thrilled to learn of your project!!

    I live in a “Near Passive House” (NPH) I built in Denver in 2008. We (my wife and I) have a “Hobbit Room” off our great room which is much admired by almost all of the people who have toured our “Hobbit Room House”. A few big people complain about having to duck through our Hobbit-style round entrance into the room!

    I love that you are building this and I am in 100% agreement with your decision to make the earth-sheltered house a “Passive House”. If one is aware of the comfort, durability, and energy performance of a passive house, building anything less is morally questionable. (Our NPH home has a 3.3kW photovoltaic array that enables us to average about $300 per year in total energy use for the 2,100 ft2 house!)

    Congratulations on your decision to go Passive House for your Hobbit House!!

    PS. I would love to talk with you Offline about the technical aspects of your project because while I am an Uber Tolkien Fan, I am also a CPHC.

    • Lance: I guess I went out of order. I answered the other comment you made first. It’s great that you are passive house certified! I met with a passive house consultant about two months ago and went over my section drawing with him. He had some really good ideas and I have changed that drawing to reflect some of the things he mentioned. Unfortuneately consulting with a professional architect is not cheap.So I have to make the most of my time with professionals. I do have a question for you. I did want to incorporate the ability to add solar to the project at a later date but I’m not sure exactly what I need to put through the slab or through the roof. I have also heard that solar hot water is the way to go but I’m not sure. One of the problems with solar is that there are a lot of beautiful trees on the site and I really don’t know how that will affect solar performance. $300 per year energy bills sound sweet! Talk to you soon!


      • Lance: I would really like to see a couple of pictures of your Hobbit room. Especially the door. Eveerything is in the details and I am not quite sure how I’m going to do mine yet. Thanks again!



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