The Passive House Standard
The International Passive House Standard is the world leader in building energy efficiency. Such buildings are known for unsurpassed thermal comfort and indoor air quality with minimal operating costs. This building standard is achievable today in North America, at an affordable price, with no ‘green premium’. The Bernhardt Passive House is a demonstration of that reality.
As energy efficiency increases, it becomes possible to eliminate some costs, offsetting costs associated with the higher quality thermal envelope. With thoughtful design, costly heating and air conditioning systems are eliminated without sacrificing thermal comfort. Sumer shading allows the circulation of cool, fresh air, while exposure to the winter sun provides much of the heat needed in the winter. A minor amount of supplemental heat ensures comfort during the most demanding heating conditions. Even if the electricity were turned off, indefinitely, the interior temperature will always remain livable, and most likely comfortable, even in the coldest, wettest weather.
The partners to this project believe in the need to advance design, materials and construction techniques to achieve efficient, comfortable buildings people wish to live and work in while achieving societies energy conservation objectives.
“What if we got serious about energy conservation, and instead of aiming at 30% savings for one house on the block, aim at 90% savings, whilst making it affordable for all?”
- Wolfgang Fiest, originator of the Passive house Standard
With buildings responsible for approximately half of a city’s carbon footprint, and the energy consumed to operate buildings responsible for 85% of that contribution, building energy efficiency must be addressed to achieve energy conservation objectives adopted by many local, provincial and national governments. For this reason, all new construction in Europe & Britain will meet the Passive House standard by 2016. Although North American energy prices and climate action initiatives lag those in Europe and other countries, the direction is clear. Governments in North America are looking for a means of achieving their environmental objectives without imposing an unreasonable financial burden on residents. The PH standard provides the solution.
Passive House is an objectively verified route to sustainable buildings, achieving 80-90% energy savings over conventional construction. Passive House design relies upon the shape & orientation of the building, a high performance heat recovery ventilation system, high performance windows, insulation, and an airtight envelope to create outstanding thermal comfort and indoor air quality, while consuming a fraction of the energy required by most modern buildings. It is by far the world’s highest thermal performance standard; requiring so little heat the building can be heated primarily by “passive” sources such as direct sunlight and heat gains from existing appliances and building operations. Within the last several years, Passive House has gained rapid popularity, with over 30,000 in existence worldwide.
Although the standard is based on energy efficiency, it is the outstanding thermal comfort and indoor air quality that attracts many to the Passive House standard. The absence of cold floors and windows and even temperatures throughout the building create a comfortable environment few are willing to relinquish once they have experienced it.
The highly efficient heat recovery ventilation system in every Passive House augments thermal comfort by providing continuous warm, fresh air at a minimal energy cost.
Passive building principles apply equally to single-family homes, multi-family homes, commercial buildings, and institutional buildings. Such buildings are future-proof, healthy and affordable buildings – and they are achievable in Canada today.
“The City of Vancouver is planning to have all new houses carbon neutral by 2020.”
The City of Vancouver has published a Passive House Toolkit. A copy can be viewed here.