When you hear the abbreviation, PH, you think … hmmm, didn’t I learn something about that back in the day, in science class? Well, while it’s true that pH IS a scientific term, it also could represent the Passive House, an up-and-coming building type that’s growing in popularity. The reason for this trend is the nature of the Passive House. It may be just about any building design that exists, but the way it’s constructed makes it nearly airtight and greatly reduces the need for heating, cooling and lighting. These homes are incredibly energy-efficient, extremely sound-proof and very stable in temperature. With the costs of heating and cooling always rising, these features are very attractive to your home buyers!
WHERE IT BEGAN:
The original concept, called Passivhaus, began in Europe, mostly Germany and Austria, in the 1980-1990’s. The idea spread to the US in the early 2000’s. There are five principles which are followed in building a PH. First, a PH has continuous insulation through its whole envelope with no thermal bridging. Second, the envelope is highly impervious to air penetration in either direction – outside in or inside out. Third, the windows and doors are the highest industry standard triple pane construction. Fourth, there is a heat and moisture recovery air exchange system which retains the balance but provides fresh air. Fifth, by intentionally situating the house on the lot and by window placement, the sun’s impact is engineered to provide heat in the winter and to reduce heat in the summer.
WHY IT’S ATTRACTIVE:
PH homes are comfortable no matter the season, with minimal heating and cooling. There are no drafts, the temperature fluctuates very little and the air filtration system keeps air quality high. While a supplemental geothermal heating/cooling unit may be needed, the house design minimizes the need for this. This economy is possible because in winter, the air ventilation system uses the warm air exiting the house to heat the colder air entering the house, and in summer, the cold air exiting the house cools the warmer air entering. The homeowner experiences substantial savings in heating/cooling costs. Another perk of a PH is the low transference of outside sound into the home. It’s remarkably quiet, no matter the setting.
HOW TO GET STARTED:
If these concepts sound interesting to you, why not follow up by visiting the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) website? They have professional training, certifications and resources for the builder who is interested in this novel and growing technology. In addition, try to network with builders who already have entered the PH building field to get tips and insights.