Passive House - Not just homes!
In Europe there are hundreds of buildings that are certified as Passive Houses but are not actually single family residences. Passive House as a standard refers to certain stringent energy standards that apply to all types of buildings including multifamily residences, schools, offices, industrial buildings, etc... As of 2010 there has only been one commercial Passive House building built in the USA so far and that is the Bio-Haus in Minnesota. Excitingly there are now a handful of projects on the drawing boards in the US.
The Passive House Standard
Why build Passive House?
About 60 percent of the energy consumed in the US is used to operate our buildings. With growing climate concerns, it is imperative that we build smarter buildings now, using simple, current technologies.
How much does it cost?
Passive House construction costs marginally more than conventional construction to build. Usually in the range of 4% - 7% more; which can yield simple paybacks in as little as four years. This is possible because the higher costs for insulation and windows, etc. are quickly recovered by the lower cost of operating the heating and cooling systems. Another benefit of the passive house is a much quieter home. Combined with the yearly energy savings, a Passive House is a win win scenario.
Passive House Links:
www.passivehouseBKLYN.com (Our passive house blog from our first PH renovation)
www.nypassivehouse.org (NY Passive House Chapter)
www.meetup.com/NYPassiveHouse/ (NY Passive House Meetup Site)
www.foursevenfive.com (475 High Performance Building Supply; Great local Brooklyn supplier)
What is a Passive House?
Passive House, although conceived of in the Midwest in the early 70’s, became a standardized system of building in the early 1990’s in Germany. Dr. Wolfgang Feist developed the system and built the first prototype. Now there are thousands in Europe and the EU has made Passive House mandatory for Public Buildings by 2018 and Residential construction by 2020. The idea behind Passive House focuses on Super insulating and air sealing the building’s envelope so that the mechanical systems can be greatly reduced or in some cases eliminated.