Passive House

Passive House

By: Lee Boyland As environmentally-responsible building is becoming more prevalent and recognizable by the general public, the decision by homeowners to build eco-friendly homes is on the rise too! Most designers are familiar with LEED and at least know of the LEED for Homes rating system. Did you know that other third-party certifications exist for residences too? I learned about one in particular called Passive House at this spring’s Greening the Heartland conference in Indianapolis. This is an international concept, with Passivhaus-Institut operating in Darmstadt, Germany. So what is a “Passive House?” It’s a building that uses solar energy and excellent insulation to lessen the use of active resources, and is therefore at or near ‘zero’ energy. Passive Houses have thicker walls, double or triple glazed windows, use shading, use energy recovery and grey water recovery systems, and capture solar energy. These buildings—not just homes—have a huge reduction in energy use and carbon emissions compared to a typical building. Sure, a Passive House may require more and higher-quality building materials, but it will save the owner in energy expenses for years! Passive House is not a new rating system. In fact, by 1985, there were over 10,000 Passive House certified buildings in North America, and there are now Passive House projects in Europe and Japan—not just modern buildings but also traditional ones too. Passive House certified projects follow a detailed process, starting with a pre-design phase where the client works with a Passive House consultant that includes a design development phase where the building’s life cycle cost is analyzed using computer software. To learn more about Passive House, visit www.passivehouse.us, www.phaus.org, and www.passivehousemidwest.com Photograph borrowed from www.inhabitat.com

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