I recently edited this article and thought it’d be a good idea to put it back on the blog as an entry. This entry is permanently linked on the right hand side under pages.
Passive House is a rigorous, voluntary building energy standard focusing on superior energy efficiency and quality of life at low operating cost.
Passive House is the highest certified building energy standard in the world, with the promise of reducing the total energy consumption of buildings by up to 90%, while providing superior comfort and indoor environmental quality. When combined with renewable energy systems such as solar photovoltaic or solar thermal, Passive House puts true zero energy buildings and carbon neutrality within reach.
The name Passive House is derived from the German term “Passiv Haus”, which describes a building with an extremely reduced (passive) heating system, versus conventional buildings with large (active) systems.
Energy Conservation First
Passive House is an “energy conservation first” approach. The basic idea is to radically minimize heat loss through effective heat retention, and maximize passive solar and internal heat gains. In our local climate, the sun can provide up to 50% of the energy needed to heat a Passive House. Internal heat gains from people and equipment can provide an additional 15%.
The Passive House building energy standard limits the amount of energy a building can consume per square foot of usable floor space and year. The limit for heating and cooling energy is 4.75kBtu, and the limit for source energy accounted for at the utility provider is 38kBtu. Air tightness of the structure is limited to 0.6 air changes at 50 Pascal pressure, or about 0.1 cubic feet per minute.
Designs are modeled with a scientific energy modeling software called the Passive House Planning Package, and field tested for various parameters during and after construction. Design and field testing are submitted to the Passive House Institute U.S. for certification.
With its low energy consumption—as little as 10% of standard code-compliant buildings—Passive House buildings perform at an estimated 15 on the HERS scale, meet the 2020 requirements for the Architecture 2030 Challenge today, and can meet energy and carbon neutral goals for operation with a modest amount of renewable energy systems.
Passive House buildings are certified by the Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS).