Sponsored Content: Several years ago, Salvatore Zarrella was reading a trade magazine when he came across a story entitled \u201cGreen Without Gizmos.\u201d The article described Passive House, an exacting standard for building energy-efficient homes that had begun in earnest in Germany in the 1990s. \u201cIt was transformative for me,\u201d said Zarrella, a Stamford native and home builder who founded the New Canaan-based Construction Management Group (CMG) in 2005. \u201cPassive House is the most responsible standard by which a house can be built, and yet myself and other builders weren\u2019t familiar with it.\u201d The concept of Passive House construction is straightforward: To build residential and commercial buildings that use upwards of 90% less energy for heating and cooling than do traditional buildings. This is accomplished through several core building principles, including air-tight construction, thick exterior insulation, and whole-house ventilation. Buildings are built to capture maximum sunlight through their orientation and through the installation of high-efficiency windows; heat is kept in during the winter and out in summer. Studies at the Passive House Institute US convinced Zarrella that the standard was one he wanted to pursue while building homes in Fairfield and Westchester counties. Last year, a friend and colleague of his, Michael Block, joined CMG as a partner focusing on the business operations of the firm. \u201cWe will continue to build conventional homes of high quality, but we are also highly focused on educating our clients about this wonderful new concept of home building,\u201d said Block. CMG will start construction early next year on two new Passive House home constructions in North Stamford and is working with the Vita Design Group of Westport on plans for a third home that is for sale on a nearly two-acre parcel at 1303 Ponus Ridge Road in New Canaan. The four-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot house is a semi-glass structure situated on a cliff overlooking Ponus Ridge and New Canaan Land Trust open space. The home is a one-of-a-kind modern design and continues the tradition of progressive architecture that New Canaan is well known for nationally. \u201cThe architecture is stunning,\u201d said Zarrella. \u201cThat\u2019s also an important part of Passive House. The homes are the standard for energy efficiency, but we want them to look great, too.\u201d \u201cA typical home of this size would cost thousands per year to heat and cool,\u201d said Block. \u201cBut a Passive House of this size would cost in the hundreds per year. The concept has the word \u2018passive\u2019 in it because the homes \u2018passively\u2019 keep the temperature of the homes at a consistent temperature, rather than actively using energy to heat and cool the structure.\u201d Just as important as energy efficiency, says Zarrella, is the high-grade ventilation system, which, among its features, exchanges stale air for fresh, outdoor air at regular intervals. \u201cThe air quality in a Passive House is exceptional,\u201d said Zarrella. \u201cThere are less allergens and pollutants. As the New York Times said recently, the air quality is so pure you can taste it.\u201d With construction costs now only slightly higher (5% on average) than those of conventional structures, Zarrella and Block are seeing the costs come down as the Passive House standard continues to gain popularity. \u201cPassive House is quickly gaining awareness in our area and the United States at large,\u201d said Block. \u201cWe could not be more excited about its future.\u201d More information: cmgbuilder.com.