Reflections from Passive House, USA Training Sessions, Part 1

Following our Passive House theme, Jeff Dinkle of Eco Custom Homes and SustainATL is in the process of getting certified for Passive House. Here is the first part of his thoughts on training for Passive House.

By: Jeffrey Dinkle, Eco Custom Homes, Atlanta Georgia.

What is Passive House?  “The Passive House Design standard is a performance-based and verifiable building energy metric that has been established based on global carbon reduction needed to avert the climate crisis as well as future costs of fossil fuels (peak oil) and therefore the economic feasibility to society.”  The Passive House Standard requires reducing the space conditioning energy load (of new buildings) by 90% when compared to existing buildings.

Passive Haus was founded in Germany by Dr. Wolfgang Feist in 1996.  Passive House, US was founded in 2008 and is located in Urbana, IL.  The First Passive Haus was built in 1990.  Passive House came from the Kyoto Protocol and the goal of reducing global CO2 emissions by 2030. It also has roots based on the super insulated homes that were born in the US in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Wayne Schick coined the term “Super Insulated” in 1976, and built a series of “Lo Cal” homes.  Amazingly, this coincides with the formation of OPEC and the first oil scare in 1973-1986.

So basically by super insulating your home, keeping it super air tight, putting in superior windows and doors, and passive solar design; one effectively reduces the need to heating and cooling a home.  Thus the money saved from installing a conventional HVAC system almost offsets the added cost of “super insulating” a home.   As you can see from the chart below, there is a period on energy efficiency, on a home, that maximizes costs / savings.  This is the point we are trying to get to when we design a passive house.

IEA Paper, by Jens Laustsen

(You end up paying a 5% to 10% premium, but energy cost savings and improved health more than make up this premium)  One of the concepts that gets me excited about this program is the fact that Passive House follows the KISS concept. (Keep It Simple Stupid)  By keeping it simple, one limits the overall cost of the home by not employing expensive, advanced & experimental technologies on the home.

The goals of a Passive House are:

  1. To keep the requirement for heating and cooling a home to less than 15 KWH/m2 per year.
  2. Keep specific primary energy demand to less than 120 KWH/m2 per year.
  3. Air tightness of less than .60 ACH at 50 Pascal.

If one wants to achieve a net zero home or a carbon neutral home, one must add a renewable energy source to the home, such as Solar PV system or a wind turbine.

Over the coming weeks, I will be adding more information on the program as well as systems (pros & cons) as related to the specific climate in Atlanta, Georgia.

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This entry was published on September 24, 2010 at 2:52 pm. It’s filed under Breathable Building, Energy Efficiency, Passive House and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Reflections from Passive House, USA Training Sessions, Part 1

  1. Very interesting post. We evaluated doing a passive house (we are building here in Atlanta with Stan Dixon as our architect), but we already had the house architecture designed before we started working with an energy rater out of DC. We are ending up doing near passive house, with many of the elements of a passive house, but working with the reality of the architecture and the topography.

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