Building Better than the Building Code


Did you know that in 1631, the city of Boston banned buildings with thatched roofs and wooden chimneys in order to increase fire safety? And in 2008, Massachusetts adopted the Green Communities Act and Global Warming Solutions Act in order to combat climate change? Or maybe you’re more familiar with the current debate about whether to ban fossil fuels from new construction? Each of these examples demonstrates how the building codes and regulations strive to make homes in Massachusetts safer and more energy efficient.

But there’s more to energy efficient home building and remodeling than just having good guidelines and regulations. You also need talented builders and subcontractors who understand how to put these guidelines into practice. To build these better buildings we will need better codes and an abundance of training opportunities for the trades who will have to learn how to build them. 

‘Tilt and Turn’ windows incorporated to tightly seal so no frost or leaks. Featured at the Wayland Passive House.

In the almost twenty years that Auburndale Builders has been building and remodeling custom homes in Newton and surrounding towns, we have built a robust team of people who are committed to creating homes that exceed the building code standards. With that goal in mind, we began to incorporate passive home methodologies into our work over a decade ago.

The Auburndale Builders office, connecting is the Studio for High performance Design and Construction (StudioHPDC).

We picked up much of our knowledge of passive home and net zero building by learning as we went. We were fortunate that, along the way, we met clients who were early adopters of energy efficient building. These projects gave us the opportunity to find the best ways to incorporate passive house standards into our existing building methods and find ways to manage our clients’  budgets, despite needing to spend incrementally more on items like exterior insulation and triple glazed windows.

As we learned, we wanted to share our knowledge with the building community in Newton and surrounding towns. In 2019 we retrofitted our office space to comply with passive home standards and also built a space where we hold training for other builders, architects and interested parties. To date, the Studio for High Performance Design and Construction ( has held dozens of training sessions for hundreds of participants including our city councilors. Despite being sidetracked during COVID, we are back on track to provide even more in depth training this year. 

In our opinion, every new public building should be built to passive standards. Public buildings should be able to function as resiliency centers that can operate through power outages, extreme heat waves and storms.  Every private home should be solar ready with all electric hvac systems. Not only for the good of the planet, but also because it’s the most comfortable home you’ll ever live – or work – in.  

To learn how you can get started on the path to building your energy efficient custom home, contact us. We will be happy to explain our process and how passive homes don’t have to cost more than a regular remodel over the long term and can include all of the great design you want.