7 Pioneer Passivhaus Projects of 2011

The Passive House movement in the US was on a major tear in 2011 but for that awful split between PHIUS and international PHI.  The standard seemed free of maneuvers and politics and infighting, yet now there’s something about PHIUS+ certification and a ban on spray polyurethane foam insulation.  Oh boy!  Notwithstanding all of this, let’s not take anything from the following incredible, high-performance, completed projects discussed in the past year that sought or achieved Passive House certification.

Traditional Style Passive House Built in Ohio

This isn’t a home with drafts, cold windows, or even heavy-duty heating and cooling equipment — it represents the future of energy-efficient housing. Read more.

Menlo Park Passive House Hits the Market

It turns out that a Passive House can take on a what’s being referred to as “mission revival style” or “old world” luxury. Read more.

The First Passive House in New York

The Hudson Passive Project doesn’t have all kinds of add-on gadgets — photovoltaics, wind turbines, or solar thermal — because its performance follows from the design.  Read more.

Passive Makes Perfect in North Carolina

This charming 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath bungalow in Chapel Hill uses dramatically less energy to heat and cool than a typical home. Read more.

The First Passive House in North Carolina

This is the first Passive House in the country built out of concrete, and the concrete exterior made the construction costs surprisingly reasonably. Read more.

Modern Prototype Passivhaus in Syracuse

R-House was given a 2011 AIA Housing Award, and one of the jurors said the 1,100 square-foot home presents “A new slant on sustainability!Read more.

Unity College Gets Passive Haus Building

TerraHaus is expected to be the first student residence in the country with Passive House certification and will house 10 students at Unity College in Maine. Read more.

Photo credits: click the text links above for specific credits.


  • Monster

    could someone explain the passivhaus to me ive tried to read up on it and for some reason it is just not clicking

    • kevinmeyerson

      Passivhaus in German is Passive House in English. It is a full standard for buildings created originally in Germany and Sweden but now global in nature. The Passivhaus (or Passive House if you prefer) standard is the most energy efficient building standard in the world. Passivhaus certified buildings typically use 80% less energy for heating and cooling and other uses.

      The standard is quite detailed but in simple terms Passivhaus buildings:
      - are super insulated
      - sealed air tight, far more air tight than normal construction
      - use a heat-exchange ventilation system
      - typically use triple glazed windows
      - must use less than 15kW per square meter per year or less for heating & cooling
      - typically uses passive solar techniques to maximize solar gain in winter, minimize it during summer

      The standard is localized for various climate conditions around the world and can be used in cold or hot, wet or dry conditions.

      Costs for Passive House construction is typically a 2 to 10 percent higher than normal construction. Costs can usually be recovered quickly due to the energy savings.

      Another benefit to Passive House construction is the air quality in the house is far better than normal homes. People with asthma or allergies benefit greatly. The air quality improvement is due to the heat-exchange ventilation system which constantly filters the air and brings fresh air in much more rapidly than typical houses.

      If you google “Passivhaus” or “Passive House” there are a large number of websites with information. The main site is the Passive House Institute in Germany, but the English info there is not the best. The UK also has an excellent site.

      Hope this is helpful.

  • rmh

    Another home that could be on the list: NewenHouse in Viroqua, Wisconsin.

    • Jim Allen

      Fundamentally the passivhaus approach is based on super-insulating the envelope and controlling solar gain so that it contributes to heating without causing overheating in summer. The building is in effect hermetically sealed to prevent heat loss. This means that in the heating season, the windows are not supposed to be opened, so you rely on mechanical ventilation with heat recovery.
      These houses typically need no heating at all. The occupants and appliances provide the heat.

      It requires use of a dedicated piece of software to predict energy use, and you need to enter details of everything that you use in the building. 
      It is an extremely rigorous design process and everything is controlled, from volume, to detailing to avoid cold bridging.

      During construction, air-testing is critical, and it is extremely important that special air-sealing tape is used to eliminate any possibility of air leakage. Most of the building components need to be Passivhaus certified.

      The precise, data-driven method of design does mean that after your house is finished, if you swap your laptop for a new PC with a monster PSU that gives off a lot of heat, there is a risk that your whole house could overheat, so anticipating your electrical loads at design stage is *really* important!

      Also – if your AHU fails, you are screwed!

      Only really relevant for predominantly cold/cool climates where heating is the major energy load.

      This isn’t limited to housing though, there are Passivhaus offices and factories. I’m working on what is probably the first Passivhaus factory in the UK.

  • Anonymous

    PassivHaus made by passive house in USA is not really passivhaus :-) first problem, too much technology used and not really passive ?! 

Popular Topics on Jetson Green