Passive House Design: An Introduction to the Passive House Standard Part 2

| 10/22/2010 3:17:54 PM

Mark A. Miller is a practicing architect/builder/developer living in Chicago who designs projects around the country. His studio, Mark A. Miller Architects + Builders, designs and builds high-performing, energy-efficient homes that speak to the soul. Mark recently co-founded the Passive House Alliance Chicago and is lecturing about the Passive House standard throughout the Midwest. You can learn more about his unique approach to designing thoughtful homes at his websites: Zen + Architecture and Passive House Midwest. 

Mark Miller continues his introduction to the Passive House standard with additional questions and answers about Passive Houses.

Q: There are a lot of green certifications out there: LEED, Energy Star, Green Globes, etc. What makes Passive House different? Why should a homeowner choose this certification over others? 

LEED, for example, is more focused on how many “green goodies” can be incorporated into a building project—the more items used on the list, the more points you “win.” Energy Star and other systems focus on the overall performance of the components that make up a building. Passive House is in this category, as it looks at the whole of the building and its systems.

Passive Houses are the result of studying the cost versus performance of building systems, and this seems to be the best bang for the buck. Twenty years of studying the earliest passive houses has gone back into the computer software that analyzes how these buildings perform, so the projected results are extremely accurate. When you design a passive house, you know exactly what you will get, based on your design decisions before you build it. You know how much energy your home will use—and that's powerful knowledge. This is just a great tool to have. You won't see $150,000 spent on a PV system in a Passive House to claim you get $5 back each month from the power company. That just doesn't make good sense.

Q: Is there any system in place to track the building's performance after construction to ensure the projected energy use matches up with the actual energy use?