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

  • Health—due to improved interior environmental quality
  • Comfort—due to continuous air-exchange, reduced noise pollution, as well as warm interior surfaces, which reduce radiant heat-loss potential (make you comfortably warm in your building)
  • Durability—due to quality construction and quality control, as well as third party testing
  • Reduced Carbon Footprint—due to its low energy consumption, which makes the use of renewable energy sources very attainable

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.

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