Passive House: An Intro

Passive House Multi-Unit Residence by Halle 58 Architekten. Located in Switzerland. 1st Place in the 2010 Passive House Architecture Awards.

With topics such as peak oil and fossil fuel dependency a continually growing concern, we are working to bring a new direction to the building industry in North America.  The current typical building stock guzzles enormous amounts of energy in heating and cooling loads.  Why not use the language of architecture to nearly eliminate the demand for such energy use?  This is right now very possible… and beautifully simple.

When passive design techniques are planned for and applied, the result can be a low, nearly zero energy building, without unfriendly or complicated systems to overwhelm the owner.  This is due to passive designer’s ability to optimize the environmental benefits (solar, thermal, etc.) of a site through the careful consideration of building components.

The Passive House (Passivhaus) Standard, by outlining strict criteria for minimal energy use with maximum occupant comfort, acts as an excellent personification of what well-executed passive design strategies can achieve.  A certified Passive House building can essentially get all of its required heat and hot water from the amount of energy that would be needed to run a hair dryer.

Check out this brief interview with Dr. Wolfgang Feist, the founder of the Passivhaus Institut (PHI).