How a Passive House Operates Empowerhouse (Parsons.edu)
A passive home's solar orientation lets heat from the sun warm the interior during the winter, while integrated shading structures provide cooling and keep unwanted incremental heat out during the summer.
The Passive House Institute, which certifies passive homes, claims that the design cuts energy costs by 65-90%, however some experts, such as Martin Holladay, dispute this, and claim that passive houses not only are less efficient, but also will always need an integrated mechanical system to achieve near-constant thermal comfort.
Empowerhouse in Dearwood, Washington D.C., which won the affordability contest at the Solar Decathlon in 2012 is one excellent example of passive house design that not only reduces energy costs by 90%, but also uses a thoughtful "light-mechanical" HVAC design incorporating renewable energy to achieve net zero performance.
Passive House Adoption in U.S.
Affordable Green Homes Winners of SD Affordability Contest!
After the competition, Habitat for Humanity added a second story to the house and made it a two-family duplex, which now is a permanent residence in the Deanwood area of Washington, D.C. where Laikya Culley and her three sons live.
Thanks to the passive design, complete with triple glazed windows and 12 inch thick walls, the home’s heating and cooling systems use 90% less energy than the conventional house. Plus, a small array of solar panels help the house achieve "site net zero", meaning that if the house operates as expected, the Culleys won’t have to pay any energy bills. Indeed, over the 30 year mortgage, it will save almost $72,000 for the family, according to the Business Spectator.
Unlike other passive homes which as mentioned above often have a steep cost premium, the Culleys’ home only cost a total of $200,000 to build, which is about average for homes that Habitat for Humanity builds in the area. Plus, with help from Habitat from Humanity, the mortgage is an affordable $133,000, payable over 30 years.
Better yet, Habitat for Humanity is planning to build 6 more affordable passive homes with solar panels inspired by the Empowerhouse. This new strategy for building affordable homes that drastically cut or eliminate energy bills could expand the adoption of affordable passive home design and make the U.S. a better market for passive homes, and help lower barriers to expansion.
Learn More About Passive Buildings
You will learn about design strategies, costs, and case studies associated with passive buildings. The course will also cover how passive buildings can contribute to LEED, Green Globes, BREEAM, QSAS and Esidama Pearl certification, as well as how passive buildings meet the ASHRAE standards for energy efficiency.
The course is worth 1.5 LEED continuing education hours.