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While Passive House standards have been around since the late 80s/early 90s in Europe, they’ve recently become a topic of conversation among our circle of influence. So much so, that we decided to host a seminar with one of the few Passivhaus certified architects we know just so we could learn more. Brian Fuentes of Fuentes Design graciously visited our office in June and promptly astonished us with his thorough understanding of Passivhaus standards and ecological building in general.

Touted as the world’s most stringent voluntary energy standard, Passive House is a comprehensive system that addresses primary energy, annual heat requirement and the building shell’s airtightness. According to Passivehouse.us:

A Passive House is a very well-insulated, virtually air-tight building that is primarily heated by passive solar gain and by internal gains from people, electrical equipment, etc… The result is an impressive system that not only saves up to 90% of space heating costs, but also provides a uniquely terrific indoor air quality.

While we won’t get into the nitty gritty details (if you want those, explore the links below), one important point Brian shared with our team is that a Passive House does NOT simply mean Passive Solar design, even though it harnesses this technology, but instead extends beyond passive solar principles to include the building’s space heating demand, primary energy consumption, insulation, airtightness, proper ventilation and indoor air quality.

Passive House Diagram

Thanks to Brian, we were able to recognize the depth of these standards and see how they fit into the broader context for those in the building industry that thought up The Living Building Challenge and have embraced USGBC’s LEED guidelines. Moving forward, we imagine we’ll see much more about Passive House — particularly because the North American Passive House Conference is coming to Denver this September 27th – 30th. See you there!

For more information:

Passive House, US

Passive House, UK

Passivhaus Institut (GERMAN)

7th Annual North American Passive House Conference

— Amy DePierre

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