Passive Home Puts Old Newspapers To Use

Chilly Massachusetts isn’t known for its bite-sized heating bills, but the Beaton Residence in Shrewsbury was designed to get through the winter without spending a cent on heat. Built to passive house standards, this 3,000-square-foot home is the first in the state to be certified by the Passive House Institute US.

Owner/builder Matt Beaton of Beaton Construction partnered with Verdeco Designs to build his home, which incorporates a variety of green building strategies, including passive solar orientation, shade overhangs, and three feet of recycled insulation in the attic and 21-inch walls filled with recycled newspaper insulation (locally sourced, of course:  old Boston Globes and Heralds).

Beaton Residence Massachusetts Passive House

image via Beaton Construction

The plank flooring throughout the home was milled from trees taken down from the site at the start of the project, and all hardscapes, stairs, patios and wall veneers throughout the site are composed of stones harvested on site during excavation. Recessed LED lighting (manufactured just down the road in Shrewsbury) was incorporated into the design, as were various smart-building energy automation and monitoring technologies. A solar thermal system provides hot water for residents.

According to Matt Beaton, there isn’t a whole lot of demand for passive homes in Massachusetts right now, but he wanted to build his home, about 40 miles west of Boston, to “the most rigorous building standard in the world” to pioneer these strategies and test new technologies for future clients.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.