It won't be long before everyone is building this way. In fact, the Department of Energy, through the Building America Program, is currently using two of our homes as remote 'data labs' to help inform the future of housing in America. The way we built houses in the past is just that, a thing of the past. With rising energy costs and other environmental and population concerns, the numbers don't support doing it the 'way it's always been done'. The fact that you are reading this says that you are part of a new solution, and an active member of the modern world! Good job!
It's also worth mentioning, that designing to the Passive House Standard requires expert knowledge in the latest building science and experience using the German-developed proprietary performance-modeling software which balances all aspects of energy gains and losses within the structure using complex algorithms. Building a Passive House requires a trained and knowledgeable builder who can adhere to painstaking details.
Passive House, or Passivhaus in Europe, is not a brand name, but rather a design and construction method. It is a measurable approach to energy efficient design and construction that critically relies upon the following to be performed with precision:
Passive Houses are mechanically very simple and exceptionally efficient. Due to careful energy modeling, the heating or cooling systems are tiny and are often not needed for much of the year. Also, heat from appliances, cooking and humans are often all that's needed to keep a Passive House cozy!
Read Martin Halloday's article on "Passive House for Beginners" this is a quick and easy, yet comprehensive overview of Passive House.
Also, for specific performance characteristics required for house certification by the Passive House Institute US [click here].
A Passive House is simple and costs less. Really, a Passive House is such an undemanding house, the homeowner just needs to enjoy it. The house is nicely balanced and asks nothing of its occupants. No fancy mechanicals, or radiant flooring or geothermal heat pumps or anything like that, no expensive systems to maintain and replace. Given the ultra low energy use of the home, you save about 75% on TOTAL utility bills each month, and rising energy costs become a ho-hum in your budget.
There is no other approach that allows a designer to have this level of accuracy and up-front predictability in designing for exceptional energy performance. The Passive House standard is widely accepted as the world's most energy efficient performance-based building standard. Over 20 years of data collection and analysis have gone in to the design software, which allows a designer to create buildings that will perform as expected. We iron out all the design complexities before a shovel ever hits the dirt, no surprises, no "making it up as we go" or "hoping it will work".
There are over 15,000 Passive Houses in the world today, and the number is growing rapidly. Is your lot less than perfect? Do you have a challenging climate, and/or trees that shade your building site? No problem - we will design and build a home that you will love, and you can be confident that it will perform! We conduct critical third-party performance tests during the construction process, and again once the home is complete, this all verifies we've hit our design targets, providing you with maximum comfort and performance in your new home.
How this works is actually quite simple. Consider a thermos bottle vs. a glass coffee pot on a heating element. A thermos is so well insulated that after initial heating the contents will retain most of its heat over time, sidestepping the need to constantly produce new heat to keep the contents warm. The same idea applies to a Passive House. The home is so efficient that the heat put off by occupants, appliances, and some really great windows will create a cozy indoor environment without having to constantly add more heat.
The red, yellow and green in this picture represents areas of heatloss, the blue indicates areas of no heatloss.
Passive Houses are somewhat like any house on this issue: Open the windows or turn on the ventilation system to bring cool air into the home at night. On particularly hot days, close things up in the morning, to keep the cool air inside. This approach works great, because the home is so well insulated.
If you live in a climate that requires the use of an air conditioning system, you will also experience huge benefits from our approach. We'll design and build a home that requires one tenth (1/10th) of the energy for cooling that is required by a typical home. That's right, your cooling bill will go down by 90%!
The Passive House software will accurately determine the size of solar array required to make your project Net-Zero, and/or Carbon Neutral. Experts agree that the first thing on the list when pursuing Net-Zero and Carbon Neutral is to design and build an energy efficient structure. So a Passive House is the perfect place to start when you want Net-Zero and/or Carbon Neutral. A Passive House is so ultra-efficient, with super low energy demands; typically a relatively modest alternative energy system will provide more power than you will use.
You don't have to invest in geothermal, or even solar or other alternative energy systems, to have a Passive House. The whole focus of the approach is to make the home USE less energy, and NOT NEED expensive mechanical systems to become "efficient".
Statistics indicate that energy-efficient homes sell more quickly than standard homes, often above market value. You'll have a certification by a third-party, which verifies your home's performance. Also, a Passive House is not built with expensive mechanical systems or 'things to go wrong' which is a wonderful selling point over a home built with efficient but costly heating systems. Finally, our work has been winning awards for many years, so you can be assured that your home will be well received if you choose to put it on the market!
If you want a new home that is geared towards "being green", a Passive House is the most cost-effective option. Most buyers of a super-green home will consider expensive mechanical systems like geo-thermal heat pumps and radiant floor heating systems. These systems can increase a home's energy-efficiency, but they cost much more than simply designing and building a Passive House, which uses 75% less total energy to begin with. Also, with no expensive mechanical systems to replace over time, the Passive House method continues to put money in your pocket!
The Artisans Group is a true Design/Build firm. Bring us your needs with the confidence that we will take full responsibility for every phase of the project, while you spend your energy on realizing your dreams, and not on trying to manage a surprisingly large group of specialists and suppliers.
We have designed and built more Passive Houses than any other firm in Washington State. Creating a successful Passive House requires many different fiercely committed players to focus on the details. We have the experience to identify the important details, and a proven history of "getting them right."
The Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) is a proven modeling tool created by the Passivhaus Intstitut of Darmstadt, Germany. Based on hundreds of specific data points, the PHPP predicts energy consumption and performance of a Passive House prior to project ground-breaking. The PHPP considers localized climate data, solar orientation, comfort criteria, seasonal shading conditions, as well as the internal heat gains of humans and appliances. The PHPP is empowering as a comprehensive design tool, allowing for the optimization of any project to its architectural design, specific site, building assembly components and budgetary constraints. A few simple examples: the PHPP calculates valuable information such as potential overheating issues; and it offers the ability to model cross-ventilation or night-flushing to alleviate active cooling needs.
The Passivhaus institute was founded in 1996 by a German physicist, Dr. Wolfgang Feist. Feist drew his inspiration from groundbreaking superinsulated houses built in Canada and the U.S. aiming to refine North American design principles for use in Europe, Feist built his first Passivhaus prototype in 1990-1991.
The first building in the U.S. to meet Passivhaus standards was a private residence built by architect Katrin Klingenberg in Urbana, Illinois, in 2003. Klingenberg later founded a nonprofit organization, the Ecological Construction Laboratory (E-co Lab), to promote the construction of energy-efficient homes for low-income and middle-income families. In October 2006, the E-co Lab completed Urbana's second Passivhaus building: a 1,300-square-foot home that resembled Klingenberg's home in many ways.
As Klingenberg devoted more and more time to promoting Passivhaus buildings in North America, she decided to found the Passive House Institute US - basically, a North American outpost of the Darmstadt institute - in Urbana.
(In part taken from Martin Halloday's article: Passive House for Beginners)
There is a tremendous amount of good information about Passive House on the internet, these are just a few to get you started:
The Artisans Group Blog
We care and feed our blog with new PH stories from around the nation, project updates and other juicy bits of Passive House news.
Passive House Institute of the United States (PHIUS)
PHIUS is the headquarters for Passive House in the United States.
Lots of great discussions about all aspects of Passive House.
Passive House Alliance
The Passive House Alliance (PHA) is a national non-profit organization created to support the Passive House building energy standard through public outreach, education, support of industry professionals and advocacy
International Passive House Association (IPHA)
This site can deepen your awareness of Passive House on a global level.
This is a relevant wiki-based site by the IPHA, which functions as a information clearinghouse about the Passive House standard. It’s a touch unpolished, but the information is accurate and solid and presented in an orderly fashion.
Services for a custom home
We started installing systems in a well house for a new home this week. Amazing how much stuff goes in and out of a small well house!
"We are very excited about our passive house built by the Artisans Group!..."
"Great job and we will definitely (and are already) recommend your company to others..."
"Believe you can and you're halfway there."