Passive Houses and Net Zero Energy Homes

Energy Efficiency, Health and Comfort

In 2008 we became interested in the Passive House standard for one reason: it was the only approach to sustainable design that affordably achieved dramatic energy efficiency. At that time Passive Houses used about 20% of the energy of a code-built home. Passive House was the logical first step in creating a zero energy home.

Today this situation is different. With upgrades to the International Residential Code, the difference in energy use between a Passive House and a 2015 IRC house is closer to 50%.  And with solar PV 25% of the cost it was in 2008, it is now cheaper to get to net zero by building a code-built house and adding the extra solar panels. Yet today we are even more committed to designing all our new homes to the Passive House standard. Why?

The first reason is that with the advent of electric vehicles, to be truly net zero a house must be able to power both its internal needs and an EV. Without a Passive House level building envelope, most houses simply do not have the available roof area to achieve this.

The second reason is health. With recent studies showing the interdependence of the immune system, the microbiome, and the larger environment, the health benefits of Passive Houses have become even more critical to our clients. The Passive House methodology is grounded in building science. Not only energy flows, but moisture and condensation are part of the modeling software.  Passive Houses are certified to be mold free and free of products with volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). When the heating or cooling system is turned on and a Passive House is closed up, the energy recovery ventilation (ERV) system provides the constant filtered outdoor fresh air we need to support a healthy immune system. These homes are indeed a refuge.

In this section you will learn more about our Passive House projects and find links that explain the approach in greater detail.


Learn more about Passive Houses

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