Foundations of Passive House
by Franca Trubiano
As we discussed in a recent article, most buildings in 2050 — less than forty years from now — will likely have to get by with perhaps 10% of the carbon footprint common in the U.S. today. We know of exactly one established building standard that's been demonstrated to produce 2050-ready homes, today. And, harsh though it might sound, anything built today that is significantly less efficient than the roughly 90% energy savings achieved by Passivhaus, seems designed to be obsolete. —The Editors
Building Energy Revolution
The Passivhaus movement represents an international group of design, construction and engineering professionals actively dedicated to the advancement of energy-free architectural design principles. Certified building professionals implement sophisticated, yet low-technology, high-performance measures for energy-efficient buildings.
The group's members include the Passivhaus Institut and its certified international chapters as well as the International Passive House Association.
Together they promote the Passive House Building Energy Standard, a performance-based certification program that evaluates the energy savings of single-family homes, multi-family housing and small-scale commercial and institutional buildings.
The Passivhaus Institut is a research-centered group of engineers, mathematicians and physicists founded in 1996 in Darmstadt, Germany by Wolfgang Feist. Its origins are in the Passivhaus concept, co-formulated in 1988 by Feist and Bo Adamson (Lund University), whose five tenets are:
All homes should be super-insulated,
designed with minimal thermal bridges,
built to be air tight,
glazed with highly insulated window assemblies, and
operated using heat recovery ventilators.
The main hypothesis is that homes located in northern temperate climate zones, with greater heating than cooling demands, could forgo artificially supplied energy for the purposes of heating if designed to maximize solar heat gains.
Once solar heat energy is transmitted to the interior, homes built to Passivhaus standards retain their thermal comfort by using heat recovery ventilators for introducing fresh air with a minimal loss of energy.
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