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Achieving Passivhaus Standard in North America: Lessons Learned

AUTHOR: Brew, James
DOCUMENT ID: 2011-20
YEAR: 2011
DOCUMENT TYPE: Journal or Magazine Article
PUBLISHER: ASHRAE Transactions
 
To help mitigate climate change, the incremental approach to making homes and buildings "less bad' or 30% better than code is not going to work. We need aggressive, actionable solutions now. The Passive House standard (Passivhaus in German) is one of the world's most aggressive, proven, voluntary approaches to radical energy reduction, assured indoor air quality, durability, and thermal comfort in the world today. The Passive House standard has roots in Sweden, Germany, Canada and the US. While much of the approach to good, low-energy and passive design is well known, it is still seldom practiced. This paper will introduce and explore the Passive House standard design approach and requirements as well as demonstrate its application to new and retrofit projects in the North American context. Drawing from expertise on the early Passive House projects in the US and Germany, as well as on the ground experience of more recent successful and unsuccessful Passive House projects in North America, a journey toward the best practices in design application, cost and certification will be discussed. A brief review of the various products and systems incorporated in North American projects to meet the aggressive requirements of the passive house standard will also be introduced.

This paper was originally published in ASHRAE Transactions.