Afton Passive House

Passive House, Afton, Minnesota

High Performance Architecture

Located in Afton, Minnesota, just west of the St. Croix River on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, this seemingly ordinary farmhouse is anything but ordinary. Its remarkable comfort, efficiency, and durability make this house truly extraordinary.

CR-BPS was honored to provide architectural, passive house consulting, and energy modeling services for this project.

Passive House

Designed to meet the Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS) standard for building energy performance, comfort, and durability, the Afton Passive House has been pre-certified and is awaiting final certification, which ensures the house is built to meet or exceed PHIUS performance requirements.

The clients are taking their low-load building a step further with renewables on site able to achieve net-zero or net-positive energy status.


On a private, tree-filled site, the house takes advantage of the landscape’s rolling hills with a walkout basement, oriented for proper solar exposure and views.


The exterior and interior design of the Afton Passive House takes its cue from the many farmhouse styles scattered throughout this part of Minnesota. A simple progression and layout of spaces provides openness for the home’s main living spaces with more privacy for others. The house was designed to accommodate multiple generations of family for special occasions, while still guaranteeing privacy for all. Despite the demanding requirements for reduced energy consumption, the house is filled with tremendous light. Due to its passive house features, the comfort and air quality of the house are unmatched. A large barn on the site also influenced the home’s exterior design, capturing the essence of a Minnesota family farmstead.


The Afton Passive House building envelope includes super-insulated, airtight, and durable assemblies, including: R-40+ slab, R-60+ walls, and R-100+ roofs. The exterior doors and windows are also high-performance products.


The Afton House mechanical systems include a Zehnder ComfoAir HRV with a pre-tempered ZehnderComfoFond-L Eco geothermal heat exchanger for mechanical ventilation. Heating and cooling is provided with a highly-efficient Chiltrix air-to-water heat pump system, while supplementary redundant heat is provided with a boiler system.