What Exactly Is a Passive House?

In a day when eco-friendly seems to be a hard-selling catch phrase, you can understand why some homeowners would be getting green with their largest investments: Their homes.

The Passive house, the most eco-friendly home option around, can cut the energy consumption of a home used for heating by a startling 90 percent.

So what is a passive house? And how can a home meet a Passive House Building Energy standard?

The phrase “passive” describes the way the home relies on natural resources, saving energy without resorting to “active” technologies, including photovoltaics or solar thermal hot water systems.

These green homes are virtually air-tight and extremely well insulated.

Tens of thousands of passive houses have been built over the past two decades in Europe, establishing an impressive and dependable performance record. And now, more international governments are establishing Passive House standards as a key element of their policies to reduce energy use for the long term.

So what makes a house a certifiable Passive home?

Below are several critical design principles:

  • Super Insulation: insulation tuned to the local climate level to assure a stable, draft-free interior
  • Thermal Bridge Free Construction: detailing that assures energy isn’t transferred through building materials
  • Air-Tight Construction: rigorous attention to sealing all potential air leakage sources
  • Net-Gain High Performance Windows: triple glazed, tilt-turn windows tuned to gain more energy than they lose
  • Balanced Ventilation: system recovers heat from steady balanced air flow, “the house literally breathes”
  • Lighting and Plug Loads: LED and CFL light sources in nearly all fixtures and the best Energy Star appliances

Generally, construction of a Passive House is about five percent more costly than typical construction, however, savings start immediately. Your energy usage –and subsequent bills—will be minimal, and can save you thousands of dollars a year.

Source: passivehouse.us.

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