The Passive House standard is the highest standard for energy efficiency of houses and commercial buildings in the world. A house built to Passive House standards can save up to 80% in heating energy over a conventional house built to code. At the same time Passive Houses are buildings which assure a comfortable climate in summer and in winter.
The Passive House philosophy is based on two guiding principals; 1) Optimize what is already essential. 2) Minimize losses before maximizing gains. This is achieved by adherence to the following steps;
Maximize Passive Solar Gain – This is achieved by orienting the house so that the main glazing areas face south and using high performance windows that capture and retain the heat. Thermal mass may also be used.
Superinsulate – Appropriate amounts of insulation are added to the walls, ceiling, and under the foundation that match the climate zone. In addition, the thermal envelope is designed to be airtight preventing air leaks and eliminating drafts.
Thermal Bridge Free Construction – Elimination of paths that can conduct heat to the exterior.
Balanced Ventilation System – Efficient heat recovery combined with supplementary supply air heating, a continuous supply of fresh air is provided, optimized for occupant comfort.
Efficient Appliances – By fitting a Passive House with efficient household appliances electricity consumption can be reduced by up to 50%, compared to the average household, without any loss of convenience. Best of all, a Passive House can look great and will add approximately only 10 to 15% to the construction budget over a code compliant house. This number varies by region and building of course.
Pictures shown above with permission from Peabody Architects