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Small Eco Houses – Guinnard houses at Les Paccots, Switzerland

By Sonja Raca
15 July 2013

les-paccots-minergie-p-eco-house-1Two family houses owned by Guinnard family at Les Paccots in Switzerland belong to new generation of ecological projects with Minergie-P-Eco certification. Acquiring this certification is very demanding, and there were less than 350 objects in Switzerland that got this certificate until 2012. Unlike Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects standards, Minergie-P-Eco requires 40 percent lower heating needs as well as better insulation and air-tightness.

Designed by Lutz Architectes (website available in French language), these two passive houses were constructed in nine months and finished in 2009. Houses are situated at the edge of the forest, at 1,037 meters (3,402 feet) of altitude, and are harmoniously integrated into the landscape due to their modern and simple design. They could perfectly be described in just few words: luminosity, space, and comfort on two levels.

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Each Guinnard house has base surface of 185 square meters (1,991 square feet), with two floors and 5.5 rooms. Houses don’t possess any conventional systems of heating such as natural gas, fuel oil, or electric radiators. Both homes use the heat provided by a soapstone stove on the ground floor and rely on natural air circulation to spread the heat around the houses.

Large triple glazed windows are providing the maximum amount of direct sunlight and natural lightning, as well as optimal thermal isolation. Nearly all window frames are lined with additional layer of cork which ensures that the heath loss is reduced to minimum.

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The other major asset of these villas is the automatic system of air renewal by double flux. Fresh air is blown into the living rooms – bedrooms and salon, through small grids. On the other hand, stale air is extracted from the kitchen, toilets and service rooms. The air from the outside goes through a pipe buried 3 meters (9.84 feet) deep in the ground, where it preheats and enters the house at 18°C (64 °F).

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A 7,500 liters (1,981 gallons) tank buried in the ground collects rainwater for toilet flushing of both households. The hot bathroom water is heated by 9 square meters (96.87 square feet) of solar water heating panels installed on both roofs. Only during the winter electricity is used to heat the boiler of 1,000 liters (264 gallons).

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Buildings thermal insulation consists out of two important layers – 42 cm (16.5 inches) of wooden fiber insulation which is covered with a layer of pine boards. This combination ensures more than double insulation compared to the standard buildings. It is also important to mention the usage of passive energy and the rest of the heat which is provided by heating of the household appliances labeled with A and A+++.

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Among other sustainable features which contribute to Minergie label gaining are use of locally sourced Swiss wood, recycled concrete, energy saving light bulbs, solvent-free paints, handmade coatings based on lime, and minimal use of varnishes and glue.

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