In The Solar House I briefly outlined a theme in the 1960s-80s, when some building scientists and other experimenters realized that good insulation and airtightness would be a more effective first energy-saving technique than passive solar heating. I wrote:
"Solar vs. superinsulation" became a serious question for those interested in passive methods of reducing building energy use, and it remains so today (though the concepts are not mutually exclusive). Light-and-tight vs. mass-and-glass is another was of expressing this philosophical debate.
One of the important early projects to explore the benefits of superinsulation and airtight construction was the Lo-Cal House, designed by the University of Illinois Small Homes Council. The book includes a few paragraphs about the Lo-Cal House and an illustration.
A short film about the Lo-Cal House has just been unearthed. Interestingly, its title is "Solar House Design," even though the main subject is envelope construction. It's from 1976, and it features Wayne Shick and Seichi Konzo of the Small Homes Council:
My friend Jim Laukes found the video in the SHC archives, and he prepared it for the web. The legendary Bill Rose also made it happen. (Note: Bill will be a keynote speaker at the North American Passive House Conference this fall.)
Finally, I'll mention that Seichi "Bud" Konzo is a fascinating character. I hope to write more about him in the future. In the meantime, I'll mention his book The Quiet Indoor Revolution (1992), which in essence traced the changes in building science since the 1920s (and Konzo often played a key role in those changes). It's outstanding, and should be much better-known.