The “Passive House:” Finally a Reality

In years past, the idea of the “passive house” was only a dream. In concept form, the passive house was one that minimized energy losses and operated at maximum energy efficiency. The result would be a home with little to no monthly energy expenses and a fraction of the environmental impact of most homes. Amazingly, the passive house is no longer just a dream; in fact, it’s become a reality. Several companies are able to build passive homes for everyday consumers, creating a huge shift in what it means to have an energy-efficient home.

There are several elements of a passive home that can be incorporated to achieve this ultra energy-efficient status. The following are just a few key elements of today’s passive homes:

  • Avoidance of heat gain or loss by using specially built windows with triple-pane, double low-e glazing. These windows are also strategically placed to ensure that natural lighting is utilized.
  • Energy recovery ventilator placement provides a constant supply of fresh air without using much energy at all. In most cases, this system provides superior indoor air quality compared to that of most standard homes.
  • Efficient heating systems use passive solar gain along with internal gains from people and electrical equipment to minimize energy use. In fact, the system saves up to 90% of space heating costs.
  • Insulation efforts are increased to significantly reduce heat loss and ensure that the home’s heating system is ultra-efficient.
  • Installation of Energy Star appliances and products guarantees that the home’s energy use is dramatically reduced. In these cases, only Energy Star products which far exceed (not just meet) energy-efficient standards are utilized.

Though there are many important and technologically advanced elements to a passive home, this type of residence isn’t out of reach for many Americans. In fact, the cost of building a passive home is only about 10% more than the cost of building a standard home. When you factor in the long-term savings of having little to no monthly energy expenses, there are actually savings in store for those who choose to build a passive house.

To find out more about passive houses, check out Phoenix Home Performance today at www.zerohomeenergy.com.

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Tags: efficient, energy, heating, home, passive, star

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Comment by Jeff Wendland on May 4, 2012 at 11:21am

Hi Paul,

We are certified through PHIUS and follow the Passive House standards. We show our certifications our certifications page.

Comment by Cody Farmer on April 20, 2012 at 5:58am

Great summary Jeff. I've found Passive House to be a great solution to the on going debate of knowing how green it is. This is a game of energy reduction and PHPP has become a fantastic baseline. Creating a successful Passive House is truly dependent, at the moment on the new information and training coming from PHIUS, PHI, and several others. We need real green materials. GUTEX insulation for 1 easy example. The beauty of the standard is that it's open forum, no 1 type of ingredient or way to obtain your Rx of building materials. It's dangerous in the same fashion however, and I'll be posting a sign at the Passivista, which will read please do not assume that using the same materials, R-vals, and construction methods on display at this site that you will not create a building that will heat poorly in the winter or over heat in the summer. Consult a Passive House Designer or Consultant or other professional with extensive building science background. Again we need quality materials in the field that are really green.  We've been in the field a lot lately, but here are some pictures of the Passivista Passive House

Comment by Paul Bowman on April 19, 2012 at 4:29pm

Your site uses the name Passive House, but it doesn't say anything about a specific standard or certifying organization. Is there an organization, e.g. PHIUS, involved? If so, why don't you provide that clarifying info on your site? If not, why are you using the name?

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