Passive House - Sustainable Design Article 3 - JB Hammer Designs

Passive House Article One

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Would you like to be able to heat your entire house on the amount of energy required to run a hairdryer? That is not an unrealistic possibility with a Passive House. The Passive House is a concept that was pioneered in the US and Canada, but never really caught on until it was further developed and perfected in Europe. Today, there are thousands of Passive Houses in Europe, and they consume only 10% of the operational energy required to run a comparable traditional home, with a whole house energy savings of 70-80%.

The Passive House concept was reintroduced to the US in 2003 by architect Katrin Klingenberg in Urbana, Illinois. Along with builder Mike Kernagis, they founded the Passive House Institute of the United States (PHIUS) in April 2007. PHIUS started a training program for Passive House Consultants in May of 2008. That training was offered in Portland in 2009 and several consultants were trained.

According to Ms. Klingenberg, there are thirteen fully certified Passive Houses in the US, with eight nearly certified and another forty-eight in the pre-certification phase with another fifty-one units to be submitted very soon.

The Core Haus, a collaboration between architect Robert Hawthorne and contractor Bart Bergquist, is the first Passive House completed in Portland. While it still requires certification, it is expected to reach that goal. At this time, there are approximately five other new home plans or remodels, in various stages of development in the Portland Area seeking to attain Passive House status.

If this technology is as good as it has proven itself to be, the question is, why are there not more of these homes being developed to date? One obvious answer is the economy. Another, given by Portland PH consultant,Graham Wright; "it is slow going, overcoming traditional methods and thinking, plus the shortage of products necessary to create a Passive House." In time, that trend is expected to reverse.

Portland, being a leader in sustainability, hosted the 5th North American Passive House Conference in November 2010. Dr. Wolfgang Feist who founded the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany, was a keynote speaker. There were 350 attendees from forty states and Canada. The conference was a time of sharing technology through multiple training sessions and a tour of Passive House efforts in the Portland area. For more information on the Passive House, order a copy of Homes For a Changing Climate by Katrin Klingenberg, Mike Kernagis and Mary James.



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