A passive house is basically a very well insulated, airtight home with a mechanical ventilation system. Passive House technology was developed some 30 years ago and is now becoming more widespread in the US, especially in colder climates. Typically a passive house uses 80-90% less energy for space heating than a conventional home. The ingenious thing is that the elements that make a passive house so efficient, also make it much more comfortable than a traditionally built home. The savings in energy cost offsets the slightly higher price of a passive house (about 10%). There really is no reason why your next home shouldn’t be a passive house.
The majority of what we build is passive houses and almost all our buildings include the core principles of a passive house, which include:
Avoiding thermal bridging
Airtight construction (less than 0.6 ACH/50)
Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (Great wording for someone that understands mechanical ventilation with heat recovery)
Triple pane windows
PHPP (Energy modeling to maximize performance)
Passive solar gain (without overheating)
Combining these principles, along with rigorous quality control, results in some of the most efficient homes in the world. All our homes are tested multiple times with infrared cameras to ensure extreme airtightness and to confirm that insulation is installed correctly.
The super insulation ensures there are no cold pockets in insulated areas of the home. The airtight construction eliminates any kind of draft and prevents movement of moisture into the wall cavities which makes the home much more resistant to mold and moisture damage.
Triple pane windows allow plenty of daylight without the huge energy loss associated with typical double pane windows. The high quality of the windows ensures a high level of comfort even in frigid weather.
A mechanical ventilation system with a special filter provides the bedrooms and living areas with fresh, filtered air, while removing dirty stale air from bathrooms and kitchens. While providing fresh air from the outside, the units manage to recuperate about 90% of the heat before exhausting the air.
Combining all this makes for a comfortable home that will last a lifetime while using very little energy.
WHAT IS A NET ZERO HOME?
Net Zero means the total amount of energy needed to power the house for a year is produced on site, typically by installing solar panels that produce electricity. In reality any building could be net zero regardless of energy usage as long as you install enough solar panels to cover the energy usage. The benefit of producing energy on site is that you avoid the massive loss of energy in the transmission lines (typically 2/3 of the energy produced at the power plant is lost in transmission). The efficiency of a passive house makes it relatively easy to achieve Net Zero status. In most cases passive systems are grid-tied meaning excess energy produced on site is sent into the electrical grid and credited to you rather than being stored in a battery bank. A battery bank could make your house totally independent of the power grid and allow you to use electricity when the grid is down.
WHAT IS A HIGH-PERFORMANCE HOME?
A High-Performance Home is a generic description suggesting the home performs better that your typical code built home. It typically implies triple pane windows, a mechanical ventilation system, some strategy to improve airtightness, and more insulation than a code built home.