Passive House

New York Times Article on Passive House

Many of you alerted me to this recent NYT article on Passive House: 
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/27/world/europe/27house.html?pagewanted=1&em

Passive House Economics

The economic principle behind Passive House is based on a concept by Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute to reduce construction costs through energy efficient design.

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.

Source: Krapmeier & Drössler 2001

As always, I will maintain this article in the right hand side navigation bar on this blog.

Energy Independence with Passive House

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:

  • Net Zero Site Energy: A site ZEB (Zero Energy Building) produces at least as much energy as it uses in a year, when accounted for at the site
  • Zero Utility Bill: Produce enough energy on site to offset the cost of all utility bills
  • Net Zero Source Energy: A source ZEB produces at least as much energy as it uses in a year, when accounted for at the source. Source energy refers to the primary energy used to generate and deliver the energy to the site. To calculate a building’s total source energy, imported and exported energy is multiplied by the appropriate site-to-source conversion multipliers (to account for transmission losses)
  • Net Zero Energy Costs: In a cost ZEB, the amount of money the utility pays the building owner for the energy the building exports to the grid is at least equal to the amount the owner pays the utility for the energy services and energy used over the year
  • Net Zero Energy Emissions: A net-zero emissions building produces at least as much emissions-free renewable energy as it uses from emissions-producing energy sources. This is sometimes referred to as a carbon-neutral building
  • Carbon Offset and Net Positive Energy: A building offsets more CO2 than produced at the provider to deliver the energy consumed on site. It produces more energy than used at provider to deliver site energy. In this case, the building helps offset energy used elsewhere
All the above options offer a clear path to energy independence—both for the building, as well as society. An energy independent building is a true asset for an uncertain energy future. Imagine a home that pays you, rather than you having to pay for it.

Pat Murphy's Summary of the 3rd Annual North American Passive House Conference

 
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.

Today's event

“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
Directions

Contact:
Betti Iwanski, The Energy Conservatory, (612) 827-1117

Passive House Remodel on ABC


A Passive House remodel project in California made the news on ABC. Find the article and video at this link.

TE Studio Event Recap for this Week

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 →

Passive House Comparison Tool

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.

16 inch SIP sample arrived

 

Enercept 16 inch structural insulated roofing panel

16" SIP

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.

The Benefits of Passive House Design

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

  • Up to 75% savings on source energy (pending household use pattern), e.g. reduced utility bills (in Twin Cities, as much as $2,500 year or more in utility savings for an average sized residence)
  • Potentially reduced homeowner’s insurance (due to reduced mechanical system and quality construction) Read more →

Reactions to Passive House Talk

“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


 
“Hey, Tim.
Good job tonight! […]”


Samantha Strong, Metamorphosis Realty & Design/Build

 

“Tim,
I really enjoyed your presentation.  […] I got a good overall feeling for the intelligence behind the Passive House system.  […]”


David Washburn, Valcucine Kitchens

First Passive House Talk a Success

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 →