Passivhaus (Passive House) I

With concerns about rising energy costs and detrimental climate changes, it’s no wonder uber energy efficiency is finally starting to catch on. The Passivhaus Institute has created the highest energy standards to date in our country. Imagine heating your house with the btu’s generated by repeatedly throwing a squeaky toy down the hallway for your royal indoor Retriever.

The concept of the Passive House (Passivhaus in German) – PHIUS for short in the United States — was first developed by Professor Bo Adamson and Doctor Wolfgang Feist. The first Passivhaus buildings were built in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1990.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, buildings are responsible for 48% of greenhouse emissions! In addition, 76% of electricity generated in the United States goes to power the building sector! With the application of innovative Passive House design, a house or building may reduce their heating energy consumption by an astounding 70-90%!

When compared to other eco-responsible rating systems, in the building industry, PHIUS is far more rigorous and stringent, than other leading building standards such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for example, which is an excellent system too, by the way. A point of fact, there are only 8 buildings that have been officially PHIUS certified, at the time of this writing.

Currently, there are approximately 200 Certified Passive House Consultants in the United States. Fortunately, the number is growing. Our designer, Tessa Smith, recently became a Certified Passive House Consultant. Tessa is quite seasoned in sustainable design and green building practices and she found the PHIUS standards to be impressively demanding and cutting edge for actually quantifying net energy-efficiency results. While in her training, Tessa texted me with something that I translated into this, “I’m blown away by the accuracy of the modeling system (PHPP) and intrigued by the simplicity of the mechanical systems… it makes green building more accessible to every budget, and meets performance standards I’ve never dreamed of!!”

For me, it feels like we are finally coming into a realm of Awareness and Response (Cause and Effect) in the built environment that makes sense for now and the future, I mean really sustainable, not just a green-wash. I’ll admit I’m an idealist/optimist, but I really like where PHIUS is headed. Pretty cool stuff.

Posted on September 22, 2009

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