Toward Net Zero! Passive House Inspired Homes

Net Zero Custom Home Building Inspiration

As a designer and a custom home builder in Grand Junction, Appleton, Fruita, Palisade, and Redlands, Colorado, I have always wanted to build better. It has always seemed important to be proud of my craft, efficient with my methods, and thoughtful about the choices I make. Since moving to Grand Junction in 2003, I have always felt the local construction industry tended to follow its own local market traditions and codes instead of seeking the best practices that the building science world has to offer. Coming to Grand Junction from building in the Gunnison and Crested Butte areas of Colorado, I always felt there was a pride in craftsmanship that might be missing, and I have tried to bring pride in craftsmanship and the best practices that the building science world has to offer to each project that I built. 


As part of my attempt to resist this vortex of outdated traditional practices, I have always looked for inspiration in what other Architecture and custom home building professionals are doing that is unique or innovative outside of our local market. I do this because I love learning and want to build architecturally amazing homes in Western Colorado that are beautiful and exceptionally well built. To find this inspiration, I often immerse myself in podcasts and YouTube channels about business and home building to learn and find inspiration. I do this to get myself out of my own bubble and to open my eyes to what a home-building company and what an architecturally significant, high-quality home can be. I have found some of this inspiration in the Build Show Network team and admire what they are doing and what they give back to the home-building community. I have found inspiration in this and others, and I encourage all home builders to strive to elevate their own level of quality, professionalism, and forward-thinking in their own businesses. It has both guided and inspired me to grow and lead my team toward building better in the form of Passive House inspired, toward net zero custom homes.


The gold standard – Passive House. Passive House is a building energy-focused certified standard, initially developed in Europe as the Passivhaus standard.

Net Zero Custom Homes

As a company, RG Cowan Design Build is focusing its future builds on Toward Net Zero, Passive house inspired homes. But what is a Passive House?  Passive House is a building energy-focused certified standard, initially developed in Europe, that has been modified and improved for use in the varying climates of the US. This program includes the EPA’s Energy Star for Homes and Indoor Air Plus programs as well as the DOE’s Solar Ready Home program as part of its own certification process. The Passive House certification goes beyond including these other benchmark programs to focus on reducing a building’s total annual energy demands through superior wall and roof insulations and low window and door U-Values, all while elevating a building’s durability, indoor comfort and air quality through its superior control layer standards for air, water, and vapor. The Passive House program is Building Science intensive and views buildings as a single integrated system to achieve all these goals and certify a home’s performance.

In life, my experience has taught me that avoiding mistakes is about having the proper knowledge to do something correctly. This has been an important lesson for me and the desire to move our buildings to a higher standard means I needed to be sure we know how to do it well. For this reason, I have dedicated time to elevate myself and our business by training to become a Passive House Certified Consultant (CPHC) through the PHIUS program. Phius Certified Consultant (CPHC®) training is the only certification that teaches students how to apply passive building principles in a cost-optimized, climate-specific manner.  This certification will allow me to understand better how to get our homes to a truly elevated level of durability, energy efficiency, and comfort and bring our homes up toward a Passive House standard as we move forward. My goal for RG Cowan Design Build is to certify our Project Coordinators under the Passive House Certified Builder program over the next two years. The purpose is to have the knowledge to design better, build better, and be leaders in our field. To do what we can do better than anyone. Design and build beautiful, Toward Net Zero custom homes.

I hope you will join us on our journey!

Picture of Ryan Cowan

Ryan Cowan:
Owner I Operator

RG COWAN DESIGN BUILD crafts dynamic custom homes in Grand Junction, Redlands, Palisade, Appleton, and Fruita, Colorado

We believe that good design is born of inspiration, iteration, and collaboration. It is born out of a process of idea making with a goal of creating beautiful spaces for people. It happens through the interaction with our clients, our collaborators, and our consultants, while always respecting constraints and the natural world. The process is Fluid, founded in the spirit of engagement, while adapting to the needs of a changing world. We think, we design, we build.

These buidling resources will help you navigate the process of building a custom home in and around Grand Junction, Colorado.