DOE tours the house

Today a group from the Department of Energy came by to see the house. As I was getting ready for their arrival, it occurred to me that what makes this house unique is not just that it will use 10% of the heating and cooling energy of a standard house. Its real uniqueness is in the fact that an architect with a few weeks of training and a good contractor could build it using standard construction materials at a cost increase of less than 10% over standard construction.

This is because the house is built upon the work of a long line of physicists and architects involved in building energy efficiency going back to the first oil crises in the early 1970’s. This work all culminated in the first Passivhaus, built in Darmstadt, Germany in 1991. What was unique about that building has now been made routine by the Passive House construction methodology and energy modeling software, both easily accessible for architects and builders.

We indeed have very difficult energy problems in this country, but the solution to energy efficient buildings is clearly within our grasp.