If you follow the Green Building channel here at EarthTechling, you may have noticed a couple of trends recently. First, LEED certification appears to have infiltrated every corner of the building universe, and second, a number of other green certification systems are on the rise. A number of these certifications, such as Net Zero Energy and National Green Building Standard, were designed, in part, to build on the recognition for green projects that LEED has provided while pushing the green building envelope further.
Among the certifications we’ve been seeing more of recently is Passive House. No two ways about it: when it comes to energy use, Passive House is the most stringent building energy standard in the world. In order to gain certification from Passive House Institute US (PHIUS), a building must use 80 percent less energy than its conventionally constructed equivalent.
Achieving that kind of miserly energy use isn’t easy. In order to “maximize gains, [and] minimize losses,” Passive House-trained designers and builders make use of strategic design and planning; specific climate-based siting and sizing (to maximize passive solar heating and cooling); a super-insulated building envelope; thermal bridge-free detailing; an air-tight building envelope (with open diffusion); advanced windows and doors; energy recovery ventilation systems (to keep fresh air circulating in from the outside, without losing heat); and high efficiency mechanical systems.
We recently had a conversation with Sam Hagerman, President of the Passive House Alliance US, an advocacy organization focused on spreading the good word about Passive House and increasing the number of projects being built to this standard. Hagerman is also the owner of Hammer & Hand, Inc., a residential contracting firm with offices in Portland and Seattle that emphasizes sustainability in the built environment.
EarthTechling (ET): What’s your personal history with Passive House? How did you get interested in building this way?
ET: How well known is the Passive House green building standard, and how much, would you say, is it being utilized?