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, making it the leapfrog approach.
The name Passive House is derived from the German term “Passivhaus”, which describes a building that is predominantly heated by “passive” means, such as solar, or internal heat gains, versus a “conventional” building, which is typically heated by large, “active” mechanical systems.
TE Studio was one of the first architecture firms in North America to pioneer the Passive House building energy standard. Since 2008, our practice has been on the leading edge of high-performance building design—particularly in the colder climate zones, in which Passive House provides massive advantages over code-normal design.
Heating a building by passive means is made possible by a pragmatic “energy conservation first” approach. The basic idea is to radically minimize heat loss through effective heat retention (insulation), and maximize free, passive solar and internal heat gains. In our local very cold climate, the sun can provide up to 50%, or more of the energy needed to heat a Passive House. Internal heat gains provide an additional 15%, making a traditional heating system with furnace or boiler obsolete.
The Passive House building energy standard introduces a gas mileage for buildings. It is measured in kWh per square meter and year globally, and kBtu per square foot and year in the U.S. The limit for heating and cooling energy is 15 kWh , or 4.75 kBtu—a reduction of up to 90% over conventional buildings. Source energy accounted for at the utility company is limited to 120 kWh per square meter and year, or 38 kBtu per square foot and year. This represents on average an 80% reduction.
For its leapfrog approach to building and outstanding performance, the European Union is now implementing Passive House performance as code for its member countries.
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 a Passive House certifier for review and building certification. Using the PHPP enables us to deliver predictable performance to our clients, which clearly sets us apart from the competition.
A comprehensive retrofit project aims to provide you with lower utility bills, a significantly reduced energy footprint, much more comfort, better indoor environmental quality, more durability and less maintenance in a functional and beautiful environment. Whether you are looking to remodel a little or go all the way, we can help you assess your current building, and work with you to arrive at a design solution that fits your needs today and in the future.
An EnerPHit building is typically about 5 times more energy efficient than a conventionally built new home. Because the standard targets the existing housing stock, it’s entirely possible that a remodeled home will perform at 10 times its previous efficiency. EnerPHit is the official retrofit standard introduced by the Passive House Institute that we offer to our clients.
Stephan Tanner of TE Studio is the Architect for the first certified Passive House project on the American continent. Tim Delhey Eian of TE Studio is a Certified Passive House Designer by the Passivhaus Institut (PHI) in Darmstadt, Germany.
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