In the latest weekend edition of the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, it published an editorial on Passive House. Please click to read the complete article titled “A case for active government on passive houses”
My Comments: I agree that some light-handed legislation can help get standards like Passive House under way. Ultimately, I believe that Passive House produces enough return on investment to be attractive to building owners. One of the key aspects of Passive House is its future-proof design. I believe that it is not a matter of if we will see another energy crisis or price hike, but rather when it will happen. Passive House is the best standard available today to help insulate building owners from the impact of such developments. In cold climates, survivability is another important factor. I encourage anyone to shut off their heat for a brief period of time on a cold winter day and watch the rate at which the interior temperature drops. Ultimately, I think most people will agree that in freezing temperature, the building will freeze too. Passive Houses are built to retain energy. The rely on the sun for part of their heating load. As a result, they typically do not freeze, even when unoccupied and unheated—creating a highly survivable structure for its inhabitants.
I would also like to stress some other advantages of Passive House design
Passive House’s energy savings potential is somewhat underestimated at 60% in the article. For existing buildings, and those built to code, savings can be in excess of 90%. Passive House is estimated to use about 60% less energy than today’s Energy Star (and therefore LEED) standards, which are not yet commonly applied to new construction.
The article does not talk in depth about retrofit projects. The energy savings potential for older structures is incredible. And while it may not be feasible or doable to convert any existing buildig into a Passive House, a Deep Energy Reduction Retrofit can be applied to any structure, utilizing Passive House principles and materials, to achieve energy reductions of up to 70% or more.
Please contact TE Studio for more information on Passive House and Deep Energy Reduction Retrofits.
Many of you alerted me to this recent NYT article on Passive House:
By dramatically increasing the energy efficiency of a building, the mechanical system can be radically downsized to the point that the cost savings offset the efficiency investment. In other words, the lack of a boiler or furnace ends up paying for more insulation and better windows and doors.
This efficiency “sweet spot” is the basis for the Passive House performance standards and the key to its financial feasibility.
As always, I will maintain this article in the right hand side navigation bar on this blog.
Passive House offers the potential for true energy independence. With its conservation first approach, Passive House minimizes the energy needs of a building very dramatically right up front. This reduction allows for smaller renewable energy systems like solar photo voltaic or solar thermal to become very effective. In most circumstances, a Passive House building can be designed and retrofit to meet these standards:
Pat Murphy, the executive director of Community Solutions and author of Plan C, wrote a summary of the 3rd North American Passive House Conference this past November in Duluth. Just a quick correction: The R-values that Pat talks about are based on his location in Yellow Springs. R-values for Passive Houses will vary locally based on climate conditions.
“Passive House Building Standard and PHPP Energy Modeling”
Tuesday, December 9, 2008 – 12.30 PM to 2 PM (presentation and panel discussion)
MN ASHRAE Sustainability Seminar – Energy Modeling
Doubletree Hotel Minneapolis, Park Place
1500 Park Place Blvd
Minneapolis, MN 55416
Betti Iwanski, The Energy Conservatory, (612) 827-1117
This week, I will be speaking at three events around the Twin Cities. Please note that only one of them is a public event. All events are listed on the Lectures & Talks Page (Link on the right side of this page). To view this week’s events, please click for more information below.
Read more →
Speaker Manfred Brausem from Cologne, Germany, demonstrated this handy little software tool during his conference session. There is a toggle button at the bottom to change it to English. I will try to find out if it can also look at gas prices, or if it uses the oil price to extrapolate gas prices, since natural gas is such a prevalent fuel source in MN.
I just took delivery of a 16″ SIP panel sample piece courtesy of Enercept. As you can see in the picture, the sample includes a TJI spine—this piece came off a run they did for a roofing job. Enercept offers thermally broken studs for wall panels as well as the pictured TJIs. They claim that the EPS foam is made largely from recycled content. I am looking to verify that.
The seam tape is labeled as Ashland’s Structural Insulated Panel (SIP) Sealing Tape, a patented, pressure-sensitive, vulcanized butyl rubber adhesive laminated to a polyolefin carrier membrane. This sort of product is of interest not only to SIP construction but would be useful for any wall assembly that utilizes OSB as an air tightness and/or vapor retarder.
What is the relevance of a 16 inch SIP, you may ask? Well, it turns out that for Passive House walls in Minnesota climate, this panel provides nearly adequate R-value. For those not familiar with the term, SIP stands for “structural insulated panel” and basically describes a sandwich product that can be used for building envelopes: floors, walls, and ceilings/roofs.
At TE Studio, we believe that Passive House design—both for new construction and retrofits—delivers tremendous value for our clients. Here is a brief summary on why you might want to consider Passive House Design for your next construction project.
Economy: Significant conservation and improved performance = cost savings to the owner
“Once again, your talk was great. You drew the largest crowd we have ever had. It is a popular subject that people want to learn about, and they should, as this is extremely important for the planet. Thanks for doing such a great job of conveying the information to us.”
Oram Miller, CreateHealthyHomes.com
“[…] I’m even more intrigued by the Passive House approach based on new information I learned from your talk. You are an effective presenter. Again as I said last night I think you were in your element.”
J Chesnut, Studio 2030
Samantha Strong, Metamorphosis Realty & Design/Build
I really enjoyed your presentation. […] I got a good overall feeling for the intelligence behind the Passive House system. […]”
David Washburn, Valcucine Kitchens
I’d like to thank all those who came to listen to my first talk about Passive House design and building standard here in the Twin Cities last night. I greatly enjoyed the discussion and appreciate the overwhelming amount of positive feedback.
To those of you who would like to see the last 6 slides that we did not get to, I posted them after the break. Read more →
Just a quick reminder: I will giving a talk about Passive House Design tonight at 6.30PM, at the Ramsey County Library in Roseville on Hamline & County Road B, in the Community Meeting Room. I hope to see you there.
I will be speaking at this month’s Mid-West Building Ecology Coalition meeting on Monday, October 13th, at the Ramsey County Library in Roseville (Northeast corner Hamline and County Road B, Community Meeting Room to the left as you enter the library. The library is one block south of Highway 36 on Hamline Road.)
The meeting starts at 6.30PM. My talk will focus on an introduction to the concept of Passive House design and the potential it holds.
The Mid-West Building Ecology Coalition is hosted by Oram Miller of Create Healthy Homes.
You may find other upcoming events on this page of my blog.