An email came from Faith Morgan with a link to a documentary film called “Passive House Revolution,” produced by the Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions in Yellow Springs, Ohio. It was a busy day, but I thought I could use a break from words, so I left the stack of unopened emails for a while and watched the film. I’m glad that I did.

The dark colors show how little heat is escaping from the Passive House on the right, compared to the traditional building on the left.

The film is about 45 minutes long. The production value is very high and so it was easy to watch. And the film featured some people who have written for and advised Home Energy over the years, including ACI founder Linda Wigington, architect Chris Benedict, and engineer Henry Gifford. They might not have the international fame of Al Gore, but for those of us in home performance, they pack a lot of star power—most of all, we know and trust them. The founder of the Passive House standards, Wolfgang Feist, and the person who brought the Passive House concept to the United States, Katrin Klingenberg, are also featured.

Watching the film made me feel good and hopeful about the work we do on behalf of people and planet. We have the ideas and the technical know-how right now to build and renovate homes that use 15% of the energy the average home uses today. These homes are comfortable and attractive. When I began as editor of Home Energy 14 years ago, someone explained a Passive House project in Sweden like this: Imagine a big beer cooler with holes cut out for doors and windows. And for living inside a beer cooler you get to go without an HVAC system!

I’ve since learned that that is really not the case and never has been. The Passive House concept began in Germany in the 1970s and has taken root as a home grown variety in the United States. The formula is simple: Build tightly air-sealed houses with lots of insulation and provide the means to keep the air fresh and the people comfortable and healthy inside, without a conventional HVAC system. There are plenty of examples available in books, magazines, in film, and on home tours of how that’s done in every climate.

“Passive House Revolution” goes into the details, such as the framing details for build highly insulated walls and tackling the fresh air problem with heat and energy recovery ventilators—with great images in a variety of settings and the voices of many people, including Passive House architects, builders, and home owners. The film will inspire energy geeks and educate high school, college, trade, and architecture students, or anyone interested in architecture, building, engineering, energy, and the environment. I highly recommend that you see it and share it.

You can purchase a DVD of the film for $26, plus shipping and handling. See below for more information on the film and Passive House building.

Links to Film, Online Media Kit, and Film Website

Trailer 

Media Kit  

Film Website 

Passive House Databases & Listings

Passive House Institute of the US (PHIUS) Builder Database

PHIUS Consultant Database 

PHIUS Project Database 

International Passive House Association Project Database 

North American Passive House Network Project Listing

Passive House Alliance-US Case Studies 

Canadian Passive House Institute Member Database

Passive House Organizations

Canadian Passive House Institute (CanPHI)

International Passive House Association (iPHA) 

North American Passive House Network (NAPHN)

Passive House Alliance-US (PHA-US) 

Passive House Institute (PHI) 

Passive House Institute of the US (PHIUS) 

Passive House Northwest (PHnw) 

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Comment by Jim Gunshinan on March 18, 2014 at 1:16pm

Thanks for clarifying the history Chris.

Comment by chris corson on March 18, 2014 at 7:14am

Hi Jim

Thanks for recognizing the film. It is great to PH picking up traction in the US. Just a couple of notes;

PH as building energy standard began in the late 80's and early 90's as a cooperation between Bo Adamson (swiss) and Feist( German). The standard was at the time and still is a physics/cost efficiency based system. That being said much of the work that they were doing then was built on the shoulders of North Americans. Amory Lovins, William Shurcliff, Harold Orr, Robert Dumont etc,etc.PH ( The super-insulated house) actually at its roots was a North American movement that was subsequently squashed during the Reagan years and an ass backwards DOE. The super-insulated house started on this side of the pond. Now, that being said, a couple of younger(then) physicists picked up this idea at a time where energy costs in Europe were beginning to soar. This physics based system was developed into a early version of what we have now in PH. The paradigm was MUCH improved, ventilation was added et.all. The PHI was built in Darmstadt, DE in 91,92? ( I was in college then.......oy vey). This was the first modern example of a PH as we know it now. Previous examples.........boats,igloo's, and anything built south of SB with operable windows. 

Great Movie! Thanks for the post!

Comment by Joshua Moore on March 18, 2014 at 6:43am

Great post!

Even the trailer has some great stuff in it. Love the quote from Katrin Klingenberg:

“Saved energy is the invisible oil that is in existence everywhere, and everybody can access it; nobody has to buy it from anybody – just smart building techniques will access that wealth, the wealth of conserved energy. And anybody can get it.”

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