Imagine using just 10% of the energy of the standard American household all while maintaining your thermal and acoustic comfort.
Want net zero? Start with passive solar energy.
If you haven’t yet heard of a passive house, check out this 90-second version.
"Passive" is the operative word. There's nothing special to plug in and no additional human actions are needed to enjoy the benefits of passive home design.
Windows, of course, are a critical part of a passive house. And now that Pella has a Passive product, that means you no longer have to order expensive windows from Europe that typically have little support or service here in the U.S. Select Pella Reserve windows have been certified by Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) for use in a passive home.
Passive is a good thing not only for the planet but for the occupants of the building as well. Not only for comfort's sake, but also for a utility meter that spins backward (now we’re getting into net zero) and puts money back in your pocket (and that’s definitely a good thing).
Buildings use about 40% of the primary energy and 70% of the electricity here in the U.S.
The idea of a passive house originated in the ’60s, but the first passive house wasn’t built until over 30 years later in 1991. The passive house movement has not been a fast-moving one but, the 60+ year-old concept that is not a gimmick, and the ideas and principles make more sense than ever. Passive offers a fundamental shift in how we think about and how we deliver building construction methods. And while high-quality construction is a key component, that doesn’t mean crazy building techniques — 2 x 4 construction can deliver passive.
Building to a passive house standard doesn’t need to be passive certified. Just applying these smart principles can make a huge difference. Think natural and not artificial. I.e., using the sun for light and heat and not fossil fuels. Orientation for solar gain (within 30 degrees south-facing in the Northern hemisphere is where the majority of the glazing is) can be a key component but, there are plenty of homes and buildings that don’t or can’t meet this and are still passive.
What do you have to do to get the standard?
- High R-value and no thermal bridging (think continuous insulation or as Jeremy Avelino says, “take a pen and drawn a continuous line around the inside of the home WITHOUT lifting the pen. That’s proper sealing!”) Air sealing is key, think .60 ACH at 50 pascals (somewhat like a 20mph wind) and airtightness. (This also means no bugs!) What you do need is fresh air and that means an ERV or Energy Recovery Ventilator.
- Solar gain through proper orientation
And if you are going for the certification:
Passive means respecting the natural environment while maximizing comfort.