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A case for climate-based metrics Guido Wimmers predicts the future The dark knight of Passive House GO Logic ZIPs up the Jung Haus PLUS G R E E N B U I L D I N G & D E S I G N 2 014 S P E C I A L E D I T I O N

Keynote preview: William Rose Case study: EuroLine ThermoPlus Products: Energy Performance

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The Bay Area’s Master Builders

2014 Passive House Special Edition

Editor in Chief Christopher Howe Associate Publisher Laura Heidenreich VP of Production / Creative Director Karin Bolliger Managing Editor Timothy A. Schuler Art Director Aaron G. Lewis Marketing Specialist Jen Illescas Copy Editor Steven Arroyo Staff Writer Mary Kenney Photo Editor / Staff Photographer Caleb Fox Contributors Russ Klettke, Kathryn Freeman Rathbone, Brandon Smith Subscriptions Green Building & Design (gb&d) 825 W. Chicago Ave. Chicago, IL 60642

Table of Contents 2014 Passive House Special Edition

Hot Topics


Case Studies

8 Katrin Klingenberg The science behind PHIUS’s proposal for climate-based energy metrics

16 Passive Pride In San Francisco, several boutique design consultancies are advocating for the hard science behind Passive House. Fortunately, the Bay Area has had the cash—and cultural acceptance—to experiment.

38 Jung Haus Huber’s easy and economical ZIP System helps GO Logic build Michigan’s first Passive House

10 Brandon Nicholson Applying Passive House principles to Seattle’s H2O Apartments



14 William Rose This year’s opening keynote addresses the past, present, and future

5 Introduction 6 Conference Schedule 49 Products 50 Last Word

28 Anything but Passive Architect, educator, and energy expert Guido Wimmers envisions a Canada that will build Passive Houses to rival those in Europe 32 The Dark Knight Clad in bold, black fiber-cement panels, Park Passive is Seattle’s first certified Passive House. A photographic tour shows the American movement in evolution.

42 Bernhardt Passive Home EuroLine teams up with REHAU to test drive the ThermoPlus window system in Victoria, BC 46 Zenesis House Foamglas enables a LEED Platinum Passive House in New Jersey to reach zero energy

On the Cover David Baker’s LEED Platinum-certified Zero Cottage is a solar-powered Passive House in San Francisco. The 1,100-square-foot live-work space features a façade of salvaged-metal. 2014 Passive House Special Edition gb&d

gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition

Introduction From the Editor


A Moment in History

“That Passive House is in the midst of this tug-of-war is, in the end, a good sign for our built environment ... especially if it highlights the ability of passive design to reduce energy use.”

San Francisco’s Dan Johnson sums up the state of Passive House in North America when he says, “It’s a testament to how powerful these ideas are that people would be so passionate about them to disagree.” Yes, the growth of the Passive House movement in the United States has become inseparable from the politicized debate over whether or not Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) should deviate from the European energy-performance metric of 4.75 kBTU per square foot per year and tailor standards to the country’s varied climate. But Johnson is right—no one debates a topic of little significance. That Passive House is in the midst of this tug-of-war is, in the end, a good sign for our built environment. Like presidential candidates—who may one day be debating Passive House standards themselves—when it comes to this country’s still nascent Passive House movement, any press is good press, especially if it highlights the ability of passive design to reduce energy use without pricey photovoltaic arrays and other expensive add-ons. What you’re holding is gb&d’s 2014 Passive House Special Edition. It is a publication devoted to this growing movement, to the men and women who continue to shape it, and to the incredible success it has already seen. I’m especially excited about our virtual tour of Passive House construction in San Francisco (p. 16), the host city of this year’s North American Passive House Conference. “The designers, builders, and consultants behind [these] projects have reimagined the way homes and other buildings can be constructed,” Brandon Smith writes of the passive homes currently completed in San Francisco and the surrounding area. From eclectic urban workshops to wine-country estates, it’s increasingly clear that Passive Houses come in many forms. Up the coast, Seattle’s first home to meet the stringent standard is a model of both

energy efficiency and style (p. 32). Designed by NK Architects to maximize indoor and outdoor space, one of Park Passive’s most unique features is its open stairwell, accented on the exterior and daylit through a series of windows and skylights. Further north, Austrian expat Guido Wimmers is an avid proponent of passive design—he designed the Passive House-certified home base for the Austrian team during the 2010 Winter Olympics—and is the chair of the University of Northern British Columbia’s new Integrated Wood Design program. Read our profile on p. 28. Of course, everyone wants to know what the future of Passive House holds, specifically with regards to PHIUS and climate-specific energy metrics. On p. 8, PHIUS executive director Katrin Klingenberg goes on the record to explain the reasons—and research—behind the organization’s proposal. The motive, in part, is the relative ease with which builders in certain climates, like California’s, can attain the Passive House standard. “That’s not what we want,” Klingenberg says. “We want to optimize energy savings in each zone.” Another Bay Area Passive House consultant optimistically summarizes this moment in Passive House history: “No matter what certification you use, you’re still going to have a super-high-performance structure,” says Prudence Ferreira, whose Zero Cottage is one of San Francisco’s highest-performing structures. In the end, builders may debate the finer points, but Passive House is ready for the big time, and I am proud to help push it forward. Cheers,

Timothy A. Schuler Managing Editor 2014 Passive House Special Edition gb&d


Event Information North American Passive House Conference

Details 9th Annual North American Passive House Conference San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront September 10-14, 2014

Conference Schedule

*For more information about preconference sessions, visit

Wednesday, September 10

Preconference Sessions* 8:00am – 5:00pm Day 1: Making the Most of WUFI Passive 8:00am – 5:00pm Day 1: PHIUS+ Rater Training (Application required) 8:00 am – Noon Therm Workshop: Using Therm to Quantify Thermal Bridges 8:00 am – Noon Whole Systems Mechanical & Duct Design for Residential Projects 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm Commercial Projects 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm Window Workshop: Window Calculations for CPHC’s and Simulators

Thursday, September 11

About the Opening Keynote Speaker William B. Rose is a senior research architect at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Seichi Konzo, the principal author of double-wall superinsulation— the Illinois Lo-Cal House—was his university mentor. Mr. Rose’s university research is on energy and water in buildings. He is the author of the book Water in Buildings, and for 12 years he was the handbook chair of the ASHRAE committee responsible for the ASHRAE Handbook chapters on building envelopes.

Preconference Sessions* 8:00am – 5:00pm Day 2: Making the Most of WUFI Passive 8:00am – 5:00pm Day 2: PHIUS+ Rater Training (Application required) 8:00am – 5:00pm Multi-Family-Palooza 8:00am – 5:00pm Passive Building Science Fundamentals 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm In Pursuit Of Zero Water: How To Design The Most Efficient Domestic Hot Water System (Dhw) For Passive Projects 5:00 – 7:30 pm Poster Session & Exhibit Hall Opening Reception (free to public)

Friday, September 12 7:00 – 8:30 am 8:30 – 10:00 am 10:30 – 12:30pm

Registration & Breakfast Opening Remarks & Keynote: William Rose Breakout sessions

Track 1: New Climate Specific Standards Sam Rashkin: Why Zero Energy Ready Home / PHIUS+ certification is a valuable market proposition Graham Wright & Katrin Klingenberg: Passive building principles reviewed: new climate specific passive building standards Track 2: Case Studies: Single & Multifamily Projects in California Graham Irwin: The case for passive building in California: parametric study of PH benefits for all 16 California climate zones John Sarter: Passive House as a foundation for Net Positive Living: 100% R.E. microgrid structure + transportation development for Sol-Lux Alpha, the first multi-unit project in San Francisco, CA Nabih Tahan: Prefabrication system and building envelope installation for the Sol-Lux Alpha project Track 3: Developers’ Business Declan Keefe: Speculative Passive House sales: transforming a neighborhood Randy Foster: Artisans Group Pocket House: designed for prefabrication and affordability, $135/sq. ft. Tim McDonald: Radical + Affordable + Scalable, Philadelphia, PA

gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition

Track 4: International Developments Andrea Wheeler: Passive House schools in the UK: European and US perspectives Dan Stoian: Passive House and nearly zero-energy house in Timisoara, Romania

12:30 – 1:30 pm 1:30 – 3:30 pm

Lunch & Exhibit Hall open Breakout sessions

Track 1: Case Studies in Various Climates Matt Fine & Michael Hindle: Delta Commons: Planned retrofit in the DC metro area. Design and systems—WUFI Passive dynamic model study to accurately assess latent and sensible cooling loads. Mathew Carlsson, Patrick Andres, & Germán Vaisman: The Harvest Home—DOE Challenge Home Student Competition winner and PHIUS+ project, Denver CO Track 2: Commercial Case Studies Laura Nettleton & Michael Wartnaby: Two commercial passive house retrofits: Hazelwood Library and a community health clinic, Pittsburgh, PA Adam Cohen: Design, construction, and monitoring of the first Passive House dental clinic Alan Gibson: Warren Woods Ecology Field Station: A laboratory building, Chicago, IL Track 3: Passive House / Zero Energy Policy and Codes Developments Panel Discussion Track 4: Rethinking Ventilation Benjamin Knopp: Indoor air quality in tight buildings—“Test, don’t guess” Iain Walker: Smart ventilation, challenges, and opportunities for Passive House Brett Singer: Addressing cooking-related pollutants in Passive Houses

3:30 – 4:00 pm 4:00 – 6:00 pm

Coffee Break Breakout sessions

Track 1: Commercial/Residential Project Delivery Katy Hollbacher: For consultants: Eight essential lessons from the trenches Rob Hosken: Multifamily and commercial PHIUS+ Rating and QAQC practices—Pittsburgh multifamily and commercial case studies Meredith Marsh & James Scott Brew: Pushing the envelope: Leveraging passive house in commercial construction—how to deliver high-performance enclosures from requirements to results Track 2: Hot Water and Mechanical Systems Design Gary Klein: The last frontier: How to design the most efficient hot water system Alan Gilliland & David Springer: Asynchronous air circulation for simplified ventilation and space conditioning Skylar Swinford: Residential HVAC systems in the Pacific NW— problems, solutions, new problems, new solutions Track 3: Valuation Tools/Incentives Steve Baden: Mainstreaming high performance homes in the housing market through increased transparency and rationality in the mortgage loan process Ann Edminster & Deb Little: Valuation of Passive House and zero energy in the market


Julie Kriegh, Mike Fowler, & Russ Weiser: Iterative project delivery + high performance + strategic financial incentives = cash positive project Track 4: Building Science Problems & Solutions James Higgins, Graham Finch, & Colin Shane: Thermal bridging from cladding strategies through exterior insulation Achilles Karagiozis: Smart air, vapor, and water membranes Matthias Patzold: Hygrothermal concerns in partial retrofits: Will a passive retrofit of one townhouse cause problems in conventionally built neighboring structures?

Saturday, September 13 7:00 – 8:00 am 8:00 – 10:00 am

Registration & Breakfast Breakout sessions

Track 1: Standard Adaptation Pilot Projects and Protocols Katrin Klingenberg: Pilot standard adaptation projects: Rebuilding Staten Island, NY—a NYSERDA funded pilot of four homes; the Governor’s House; SD Housing Authority funded project test house Peter Reppe: Loft|Haus: Innovative multifamily pilot project with 42 micro-units, zero energy John Semmelhack & Stuart Fix: Report from the Tech sub committee: HRV/ERV testing comparison results and recommended new certification protocols Track 2: Case Studies: Multifamily / Affordable Housing Dylan Lamar: Orenco Station: Largest affordable apartment development to date in US (first phase: 64 units currently under construction) in Portland, OR Alison Kwok, Ryan Dirks, Eric Schmidt, & Ashley Tuffo: The Stellar Apartments: Energy lessons over a year of monitoring in Eugene Jesse Thompson: Uptown Lofts: 24-unit affordable building in Pittsburgh, PA Track 3: Case Studies: Cold Climates Tom Bassett-Dilley & Brandon Weiss: Living Building Challenge and Passive House: “UberHaus,” Chicago, IL Giles Holt & Helen Bergstrom: TechStyle Haus: 2014 European Solar Decathlon entry, Team RISD, RI Ross Elliott & Stephen Magneron: Grey Passive House: Ottawa’s next Passive House, R-2000 and Net-Zero Energy Pilot under the Natural Resources Canada Program Track 4: High Performance Materials and Components: Insulation Ryan Abendroth: The “fat” on insulation: Which is best in terms of real performance? Rolf Jacobson: An innovative foundation wall exterior insulation retrofit—“excavationless” J. Gary Gardner & Jim Lambach: Foam plastic insulation in Passive House designs

10:00 – 10:30 am 10:30 – 12:30 pm

Coffee Break Breakout sessions

Track 1: Case Studies: Retrofit Single-Family Projects in California Kurt Hurley: The Midori Haus retrofit case study: Passive House as a baseline for plus-energy residential microgrids, Silicon Valley, CA Sylvia Wallis: Obstacles and opportunities of Passive House in a temperate climate: retrofit case study in Los Angeles, CA Sarah Mansoori: PHIUS+ retrofit case study: Single-family urban infill renovation with shared party walls in San Francisco, CA Track 2: Case Studies: Multifamily Market-Rate and Large Building Ventilation Challenges Chris Benedict: Newest market rate multifamily project in NYC

David Posada: Report on the design, construction, and certification process of the 19-unit market-rate Kiln Apartments in Portland, OR Joe Lstiburek: Tall multifamily buildings on the horizon: Stack effects in high-rise passive buildings and consequences on ventilation system designs Track 3: Builders’ Business Skander Spies: Six lessons learned from a high-performance envelope contractor: Dos and don’ts Sam Hagerman: Field-tested construction details for the Northwest; four years, five walls, six projects: Wood-framed envelope lessons from the Pacific NW Zach Whitt: Installing windows and doors: What is going wrong in the field? Track 4: Quality Assurance: Monitoring and Verification Carsten Steenberg: Monitored performance data and monitoring systems—the importance of ongoing data collection to ensure systems performance Dr. Hideki Shibaike and Hideumi Waki: Validation of long-term monitoring performance for the experimental house and comparison for ERV/HRV efficiencies by using WUFI Plus 2.5 Lee Eckert & Joe Buccini: Taccogna House: An investigation of indoor environmental qualities and energy use in Dundee, OR

12:30 – 2:00 pm 2:00 – 4:00 pm

Lunch, Exhibit Hall open Breakout sessions

Track 1: WUFI Passive Case Studies: Mixed/Hot Dry/Humid Dr. Hideki Shibaike, Hideumi Waki: Numerical analysis on hygrothermal indoor environment of Passive Houses having improved HVAC load characteristics against hot and humid summer climate conditions—first PHIUS+ certified project in Yokohama, Japan Lisa White: Hot and humid climate design and comfort: From the WUFI Passive model to systems that are designed to handle latent loads and validated case study performance Dave Brach: Effects of various thermal storage capacities of different materials on passive cooling potential in the climate of Salt Lake City, UT, using WUFI Passive dynamic modeling Track 2: Architects’ Business Architects hootenanny: The “Passive School” of Architecture— expressing the new aesthetic of the energy transition Tessa Smith: Fancy architectural detailing for Passive House Matt Lutz: TBD Track 3: Builders’ Business Builders hootenanny: Special session on airtightness: Steve Mann, Dan Whitmore Track 4: High-Performance Materials and Components: Windows Peta-Gaye Ebanks: Comparison of CEN and NFRC window values for four NA windows in cities in eight climate zones Florian Speier: Balancing frame and glass innovations to create Passive House windows Robert Clark: What lies ahead in super-insulating, dynamic, and integrated photovoltaic glazings for Passive House windows

4:00 – 4:15 pm Coffee Break 4:15 – 5:00 pm Closing Remarks & Keynote: Achilles Karagiozis

About the Closing Keynote Speaker Dr. Achilles Karagiozis is a director of building science at Owens Corning and is responsible for leading, shaping, driving, educating, and training others in energy efficiency and green building science at Owens Corning. His activities involve feeding Owens Corning’s innovation pipeline with customer-inspired and building science-informed solutions.

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Hot Topics Climate Standards

Katrin Klingenberg on the proposal for new climate standards With a single energy-performance standard identified as an obstacle to broad adoption of Passive House building standards, PHIUS’s executive director describes the research that will lead to a set of metrics specific to North American climate zones AS TOLD TO MARY KENNEY

From the beginning—2003, for me—many very capable people challenged whether a single performance target for all climates made sense. But the notion of a single metric was, and is, very attractive. There was only one way to find out. To date, PHIUS has used the single metric for certifying projects in our PHIUS+ program. We learned two things. One: passive building principles work everywhere. Two: when it comes to the metric itself, the skep- “In my opinion, it’s a no-brainer, but tics were correct. change is always In places like Minneapolis, the commu- hard. It was hard nity finds a disincentive; the amount of to get people insulation necessary to meet the standard to give passive is prohibitive. In California, we had the building a shot in the first place.” opposite experience: it was comparatively easy. People could build largely the way they would have anyway with some additional efforts but didn’t save as much as they could have. That’s not what we want, either—we want to optimize energy savings in each zone. We are taking a fresh look at what “optimal” means in a Passive House, accountgb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition

ing for climate and other differences. We partnered with Building Science Corporation. We have a standing technical committee of experts from across the country and disciplines. And we have lots of data accumulated over years of evaluating projects across the country. We also took a look at tools. We originally used the European tool, a giant Excel spreadsheet that focuses on average data to model energy consumption. But in more extreme and variable climates, we need a more granular tool to tell us accurately how the building will perform, whether it’s comfortable, and how much energy it will consume. We worked with Fraunhofer IBP to develop WUFI Passive, a software program that allows us to use hourly data for our models to predict how a building will behave. We are using the European metric as a baseline and running computer simulations to optimize the standard by climate zone. First results are both fascinating and exciting. We expect that it will make sense to update the standards periodically, which is logical, given advances in materials and energy generation and changes in climate. I believe the community will be convinced by the science behind our proposal when we present it. In my opinion, it’s a no-brainer, but change is always hard. It was hard to get people to give passive building a shot in the first place. The more we learn, the more we’re able to see the next step. We’re very eager to take that step, and we think the community will be too. gb&d

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Hot Topics Scaling Up

Brandon Nicholson

The principal of NK Architects describes his experience testing passive principles on a recent Seattle apartment project that has achieved unprecedented performance AS TOLD TO KATHRYN FREEMAN RATHBONE PHOTOS BY AARON LEITZ

on scaling up the Passive House approach I grew up in Colorado in an early version of a Passive House designed in the 1970s. It was super-insulated, had natural ventilation, and utilized active and passive solar radiation strategies. I went to architecture school at the University of Colorado–Boulder, where the architecture studios were taught around a passive design bent. So, as a firm, from the very beginning [in 2004], we have always dealt with how to reduce energy consumption as much as possible. The H2O Apartments was our first [time also acting] as the developer. Being our own client, we had the freedom to set design priorities and test energy-use optimization strategies. We started by eliminating systems in order to achieve better energy performance. The project is a 39,000-squarefoot, seven-story, multifamily live-work project. Usually, in these kinds of buildings, the lighting, heating and cooling, and pressurization of the corridors draw a lot of energy because the systems are operating 24/7 for the life of the building. So, we moved all of the corridors and stairs to the “[The H2O Apartexterior of the building and turned them ments] helped our into a system of walkways instead. With firm learn how one move, the building performance was to approach and develop systems much improved. for high-perforMoving the corridors to the exterior of mance, larger-scale the building also allowed better light and projects.” gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition


2014 Passive House Special Edition gb&d


Hot Topics Scaling Up

Below Seattle’s H2O Apartments feature open-air corridors, which improve the amount of natural light in the units, ventilation, and energy performance.

better natural ventilation into the units. H2O doesn’t have a core, so all units receive natural light on two sides. Not only does this improve daylighting performance, but it allows for natural breezes and cross-ventilation throughout the year, especially since Seattle does not experience too many high-heat days. There is no air-conditioning system on the property, period. Each unit also exists as its own atmospherically separate unit to help meet thermal performance goals. We knew as we were designing the building that our weakness was going to be air infiltration through electrical outlets. We used putty packs that are found in firewalls, packing them around the backs of the each electrical outlet box to keep the air in each unit isolated. [This] improved acoustics and the transfer of odors too. This is important in a multifamily building. At H2O, you will

gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition

never hear your neighbors, and you won’t smell their cooking. The building has many other features taken from Passive House principles— high-quality triple glazing on its north façade and double glazing for the rest of the building; durable, long-term materials that have a lifespan of up to 150 years; and a hybrid wood-concrete structure that acts as a carbon sink. And its design unites all systems so there is no performance ambiguity. It took some extra work to get the City [of Seattle] onboard, but H2O Apartments has been a very successful project. It helped our firm learn how to approach and develop systems for high-performance, larger-scale projects. We took those lessons and folded them back into our other work, and they are now baked into our standard approach. gb&d


Hot Topics Keynote Preview

William Rose on the climate discourse of decades past University of Illinois’s senior research architect offers a sneak peek into his upcoming keynote address for the 9th annual North American Passive House Conference in San Francisco AS TOLD TO STEVEN ARROYO

I’ll be referring in my talk to a document called “Environmental Quality of 1970,” the first annual report of the Council on Environmental Quality. It’s a remarkable document with a preface by Richard Nixon. Among the things it contains—it has a chapter entitled, “Man’s Inadvertent Modification of Weather and Climate,” which “I think we need to says, in effect, that we don’t know whether feel freer about talking about a lot the climate will be going hotter or colder. more things, about We know that carbon dioxide makes it hot- economic forces ter, and we know that particulates in the versus population atmosphere make it colder. We don’t know as drivers for energy use in buildings.” what the outcome’s going to be, but we do know that it’s human activity that governs the outcome. That was in 1970, and this book was written by Republicans. And of particular interest was the fact that the Earth’s temperature stayed pretty even and may have even gone down a little bit between 1940 gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition

and 1970. So, they were right about this— and coming off of 30 years of no temperature rise. The 1970 document is particularly good because it brings in issues that are often considered off the table—for instance, population. They were unafraid to speak about these things. In my opinion, many of the keynote talks that I’ve heard have been disappointing because I’ve wanted them to break through the boundaries of discourse that we set for ourselves, and I hope that I can do that. I hope that I can speak to issues in a way that makes other people want to talk about them more. I think it’s also fair for a keynote speaker to try to provide the best answers and information there is, which sort of forecloses one discussion and opens up another. I think we need to feel freer about talking about a lot more things, about economic forces versus population as drivers for energy use in buildings. One question that I’ve spent a lot of time with is, to what extent can efforts like Passive House energy conservation in buildings affect the eventual outcomes with regards to fossil fuel and carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere? And to what extent are we able to influence only the rate at which contributions will be made? What are we looking at if we assign different things importance? There are economic forces that are really strong. We’re now trying to talk about those as well. gb&d


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Feature San Francisco

In San Francisco, several boutique design consultancies are advocating for the hard science behind Passive House. Fortunately, the Bay Area has had the cash—and cultural acceptance—to experiment. A tour of the best the Bay Area has to offer. BY BRANDON SMITH

Passive Pride gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition


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Feature San Francisco

When you’re old and frail, or maybe when your kids are old and frail, textbooks may refer back to the early 2000s as the time when we started applying the same rigorous science to the design of our built environment that for a hundred years already we had put to work in our cars, entertainment, and communication. Those future readers might wonder, “What took us so long?” Nobody is doing more to advance building science today than the people behind Passive House. They advocate super-tight envelopes, extreme insulation and specialty windows, window placement that accounts for solar gain, and heat-exchanger ventilators and heat-recapturing appliances. They’re thoroughly mindful of thermal bridging—properly insulating I-beams from the outside, for example, since in the winter they suck heat out.

One of the Passive House movement’s most significant achievements is analytical software that ties together all these techniques and materials and provides predictive power based on real analyses of houses built before. Based on how you interpret data from the Association of Bay Area Governments, Passive House construction stands somewhere between 0.5 percent and 2.0 percent of total construction since the first Passive Houses were built in the Bay Area four years ago. But that number alone leaves the wrong impression. The designers, builders, and consultants behind those 30 projects have reimagined the way homes and other buildings can be constructed. They obsess over the numbers spat out by their modeling tools, not just because it’s so hard to meet the standards, but because the numbers mean real dollars that families don’t put into fossil fuels each month. And the data keeps getting more granular. With proper construction, the body heat of an additional occupant or large pet can make a significant difference on the calculus. Luckily, with better data—painstakingly gathered after every job is complete—comes the ability to design a more reliably comfortable and efficient space. Practitioners generally say that meeting Passive House standards boosts the cost of a new building by 10 percent and lowers

Zero Cottage Prudence Ferreira helped San Francisco architect David Baker design this home-workshop hybrid, named for its status as a Net Zero Energy-certified project. The home features a variety of found and reclaimed materials, such as the salvaged metal façade. Details Location San Francisco Size 712 ft2 (living space), 430 ft2 (workshop) Completion 2012 Certification Passive House (PHIUS), Net Zero Energy (ILFI), LEED Platinum Passive House Consultant Prudence Ferreira Architect David Baker Architect Contractor Falcon Five Design Build Client David Baker

Because much of the San Francisco population has higher-than-average incomes and real estate values didn’t plummet like in much of the rest of the country during the financial crisis, individuals maintained equity they could reinvest.

Higher-than-average education levels means there is likely more awareness of technological advancements in building science.

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While progressive building codes had encouraged builder awareness already, PHIUS lobbied the San Francisco building department—as the USGBC had previously done with LEED Gold and Platinum projects—to fast-track permitting of Passive House structures.

The Bay Area boasts a culture of early adoption, innovation, and environmentalism.

The temperate climate means Passive House standards are relatively easy to meet.


Early Adopter Why the Bay Area is a Passive House Hub


Feature San Francisco

Bottom Left On the cottage’s roof are reclaimed tires that serve as planters for drought-tolerant succulents. Cantilevered over the courtyard is a solar array that provides all of the structure’s energy needs. Bottom Right The first floor of the building is Baker’s workshop, which serves as a small production facility. gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition


Top A ladder-like stair with staggered rungs connects the kitchen and dining area to the thirdfloor living space.


O’Neill Residence This Sonoma house was the first Passive House in California and the first certified Passive House retrofit in the country. Despite numerous challenges, including two uninsulated slabs and an irregular configuration, the home is now a model of energy efficiency. Details Location Sonoma Size 2,380 ft2 Completion 2010 Certification Passive House (PHIUS) Passive House Consultant Essential Habitat Architect Lail Design Group Landscape Architect Chandler & Chandler Contractor PassivWorks Client Cathy O’Neill

energy cost by about 90 percent. Because more extreme climates require more energy, return on investment is quicker in less temperate places. Passive House software can tell builders and developers exactly how quick the ROI is. More significantly, owners save on big-ticket maintenance since, as contractors will tell you, these buildings are built to last. Today’s average homebuilder may not be building for obsolescence but also isn’t building for longevity. Passive House standards, in contrast, generally keep up with the latest research on why structures tend to fail. According to research led by Building Science Corporation founder Joe Lstiburek, buildings usually crumble from condensation in the walls due to air leakage through cracks and holes—not vapor diffusion through unmarred wall material. Passive House puts energy conservation first. Graham Irwin, principal of Essential Habitat, a Bay Area design consultancy, can tell a client exactly what effects a personal preference has on efficiency, and software programs such as WUFI and PHPP help economize the process. The game has become all about the numbers. “[Passive House] makes the science accessible and useful in the design and con-

struction process in a way that it hadn’t been before,” says Irwin, whose portfolio of about a dozen Passive House-certified projects is arguably the largest in the area. “The general concepts were there, but it was light on execution—soft, nebulous. For example, yes, insulation is good, but is more always better? The answer is yes, but there are declining returns. It’s important to know where those diminishing returns are.” For example, 24 inches of insulation won’t do a homeowner much good if his or her windows are sub-par. Windows play an important role in Passive House certification. Until recently, Passive Houses in the United States typically have used German-built windows because they were the only reliable systems available. But according to Prudence Ferreira, who worked with Irwin before founding Integral Impact, some of the window-makers’ installation manuals were written only in German, and the companies offered no customer support. Ferreira has been helping to convince American window companies to make products to their standards ever since. Marvin Windows, she says, picked up the idea first, but they don’t offer a total solution. “We need to get manufacturers to step up,” Ferreira says, “because this is unsustainable.”

2014 Passive House Special Edition gb&d

Feature San Francisco

Awareness and knowledge of how to build to reach Passive House certification seems to be, as they say, trickling down, while the projects themselves are scaling up. Currently under construction in the Bay Area are three multifamily projects, which, in addition to requiring more energy than single-family homes and thus having more potential for energy savings, allow one well-sealed envelope to serve a number of occupants. According to Dan Johnson, who owns his own Bay Area consultancy, Design and Energy, one planner for a European-style apartment complex reportedly removed more than twenty furnaces from his building design, successfully replacing them with just one of similar size. But one thing is for sure: research and development has been expensive. It has taken cash-flush owners and architects, including many from the Bay Area, to prove that Passive House can work in the United States. Now that many building profession-

als know what they’re doing, however, advocates are hoping that they can ignite an American efficiency revolution. PHIUS (Passive House Institute US) and Passive House California are two groups pushing for the same thing who don’t always agree on how it should be done. One recent debate between the two organizations hinges on whether to relax the maximum energy-per-square-foot rule, specifically for heating. It’s a tough balance to strike. Johnson says a new generation is coming into leadership, and he tends to think this new crop of leaders is truly trying to unify things. “I guess it’s a testament to how powerful these ideas are that people would be so passionate about them to disagree,” he says. “It’s kind of the difference between what refrigerator brand you pick,” Ferreira says. “No matter what certification you use, you’re still going to have a super-high-performance structure. It’s kind of like split-

Thesen-Kramer Residence This net-zero home in Palo Alto goes beyond LEED Platinum and Passive House standards, intelligently reusing site materials and prompting natural ventilation via operable skylights. Details Location Palo Alto Size 2,500 ft2 Completion 2011 Certification LEED Platinum, Passive House (PHIUS) Passive House Consultant Dan Johnson Architect Arkin Tilt Architects Contractor Josh Moore, Red Company Client ThesenKramer family

Equilibrium House This renovated four-bedroom home was one of the first Passive Houses to go on the market in San Francisco. It sold for more than the asking price. Details Location San Francisco Size 3,317 ft2 (interior), 4,200 ft2 (exterior) Completion 2013 Certification PHIUS+ Certified, LEED for Homes Passive House Consultant Essential Habitat Architect Hood Thomas Architects Contractor ENU Construction Client Equilibrium House gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition




Feature San Francisco

ting hairs when you look at the bigger picture.” Ferreira, a PHIUS board member, says the organization does want to bridge the gap. After all, PHIUS held this year’s annual conference in San Francisco, the flagship city of Passive House California. “That’s one of the great things about these conferences,” she says. “It is definitely a living, breathing community, and we want it to be democratic.” What’s the future of Passive House? It may be government-prompted or even mandated adoption. Some Passive House builders have been watching Europe and Too Passive a Pace? Top five issues preventing the growth of Passive House

The appraisal and the mortgage-lending industries. “You can’t ask for 15 percent more money because your Passive House costs 15 percent more than another one of similar square footage,” says consultant Prudence Ferreira. “Banks just don’t have a way or haven’t tried to gauge the value of the owner having more cash liquidity during the life of the loan” because of reduced maintenance and energy costs. “There’s not enough recognition of what these buildings deliver.”

gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition

see writing on the wall; much of that continent may move to a passive standard for its minimum building code in the coming decades. Meanwhile, PHIUS has been pushing for partnerships with huge government programs like Energy Star, which has been wildly successful at increasing public awareness. According to Ferreira, the US Department of Energy is considering the Passive House standard for inclusion in its Net Zero Energy-Ready Home program, which may “become the next Energy Star.” Only time will tell, but the science is sound. gb&d

Awareness among contractors, developers, and buyers and the culture of automatically building to minimum code. This could be solved by boosting the code or increasing awareness of Passive House’s affordability. “My experience in construction is that it’s made up of 90 percent laggards and one percent early adopters,” says Passive House consultant Dan Johnson. “It’s not a bell curve.”

Learning to make retrofits economically feasible in more climate zones. “I could take my utility bill down from thirty dollars to two dollars, but why bother?” Johnson says. “At the same time, with new construction, it’s like, ‘Why not?’

Specialty materials and mechanical equipment, often imported from Europe, are not yet readily available. Some North American companies are slowly scaling up production.

➎ Tax incentives for photovoltaics, although not bad, have diverted attention away from measures like passive technologies that save more energy per initial dollar spent.

Wood Residence With tilt-and-turn doors, the home of documentary filmmakers James and Jennifer Jandak Wood comprises a guest house and main residence (both certified). Details Location Sonoma Size 3,709 ft2 (main residence), 659 ft2 (guest house) Completion 2012 Certification PHIUS+ Certified, US DOE Challenge Home Passive House Consultant Essential Habitat Architect Signum Architecture Landscape Architect Roche & Roche Contractor PassivWorks Client James and Jennifer JandakWood





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Profile Guido Wimmers

Architect, educator, and energy expert Guido Wimmers envisions a Canada that will build Passive Houses to rival those in Europe. His first project was an Olympic triumph. BY RUSS KLETTKE

Anything But Passive Guido Wimmers was amazed by Canada’s natural beauty and “open, tolerant, and relaxed” culture when he decided in 2007 to move from Austria to Vancouver. And yet, the architect found that the city’s standards for building energy performance fell far short of what he was accustomed to in Europe. An optimist, Wimmers saw that as an opportunity. Raised in Aachen, Germany, the birthplace of Modernist architect Ludwig Mies gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition

van der Rohe, Wimmers was living in Innsbruck, Austria, when he and colleagues first hatched a plan to build that country’s home base for the downhill events of the 2010 Winter Olympics, staged in Whistler, British Columbia. The team decided that a Passive House, already common in Europe, would be a smart choice and something that they could engineer. With somewhat audacious confidence, they contacted Olympic officials as well as the mayors of Van-

“The Economist magazine calls it the material of the 21st century. Where concrete provides compressive strength, wood offers tensile strength.” Guido Wimmers, Building Evolution


Profile Guido Wimmers

Wood Innovation and Design Centre As chair of the University of Northern British Columbia’s Integrated Wood Design Program, Wimmers will work out of the soonto-be-completed Wood Innovation and Design Centre. At 90 feet, the structure will be North America’s tallest wood building when completed this fall.

couver and Whistler, and all agreed it was a good idea—if the Austrians could find the resources to do it. Using industry connections, the group succeeded in getting several European companies to donate services and materials to make the building possible. The Austrian Passive House generated a good deal of attention. It also helped convince Wimmers to relocate to Canada’s western coast, half a world removed from a decidedly advanced green building culture. With his wife and children in tow, he established Building Evolution, a Vancouver firm that specializes in Passive House design. Bold moves are a lifelong habit for Wimmers, who learned to challenge convention at an early age. The son of a nuclear engineer, he spent a month working at a nuclear power plant. “I began to think maybe this is not so good,” he says. From that youthful formation of critical thought processes, he pursued an architectural education in the first half of the gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition

1990s, a time he describes as transitional. “My university experience was with the last generation of sculptural architecture professors, who viewed it as a form of art,” Wimmers says. “Now it’s much more about technology.” That is, technology that reduces energy consumption and improves building performance. Right now, the Canadian West Coast is ready for smarter buildings in many respects. A “leaky condo crisis,” affecting 31,000 residences in the region, came from what Wimmers describes as the late-20th century folly of using California-appropriate designs and materials in Vancouver’s often-rainy moderate oceanic climate. “This, and the not so appropriate methods to overcome these issues, are still creating aftershocks today,” he says. Costing more than $4 billion to fix, the industry is now open to considering the technological advances Wimmers knows well from his training in Europe, where an estimated 50,000 Passive Houses are already

Details Location Prince George, BC Program Six-story academic building Size 49,000 ft2 Completion 2014 (expected) Certification LEED Gold (expected) Climate Boreal subarctic Architect Michael Green Architecture Client University of Northern British Columbia


built. Still, the situation in North America is different: Passive House ideals are built into European municipal codes, but much of this is new to fossil fuel-rich North America. And instead of owner-driven development, as is more common in Europe, “British Columbia is dominated by developers who pay less attention to long-term energy costs,” Wimmers says. Buyers of homes and buildings in Canada are getting smarter about that, he says. Wimmers credits the Canadian Green Building Council and its American counterpart with educating buyers and renters through LEED, influencing them to consider energy costs when comparing their building options. And he has his own evidence to present, based on the performance of the Austrian Passive House in Whistler: “It was dead-on with its goals in years two and three,” he says. With about 3,200 square feet of commercial and meeting space—used now by mountain bike clubs and for cross-country ski events—the facility requires just 12 kilowatt-hours per square meter annually for heating and cooling. Passive Houses, by definition, use 15 percent or less of the energy required in a comparable structure. The LEED system, with its points for local sourcing (within a 500-mile-radius), is less favorable to Passive House construction in the Pacific Northwest. Until a larger market develops, suppliers will be farther away, Wimmers says. Vancouver itself has dated building codes and bylaws that complicate Passive House construction. Most of Wimmers’s work through Building Evolution has been in the surrounding area. Not giving up, he often consults with the city and expects those codes will change eventually. “The policy, permitting, and inspection levels are where the problem is,” he says. “It’s a slow, political process.”

But what British Columbia lacks in suppliers and political and business culture, it makes up for in forestry. Wimmers is a big believer in the environmental benefits of sustainably sourced wood construction, such that he is also chair of the University of Northern British Columbia’s Integrated Wood Design program. Wood can minimize thermal bridges and provide air tightness, two hallmarks of Passive House design, and it has lower embodied energy compared to concrete and steel. “The Economist magazine calls it the material of the 21st century,” Wimmers says. “It’s flexible, seismically more durable, has a lower weight and lower density than concrete. Where concrete provides compressive strength, wood offers tensile strength.” The architect and advocate believes that structures up to 30 stories high can eventually be built with wood and wood-composite materials. Wimmers likes to debunk myths and quell fears of wood and Passive House construction. For instance, won’t wood buildings burn? “Solid wood panels and craft laminated timber are not like stick-frame buildings,” he says. “At most, one to one-anda-half inches on the surface might burn.” Might the much-acclaimed vapor barriers be too tight? “That’s a misleading term,” he counters. “Some humidity can enter, but the design should always allow it to dry out.” Referencing his interests in technological and materials advancement, Wimmers says his firm aims to “future-proof” structures. “Buildings should last 100 years, be low-maintenance, resilient, independent of energy costs, and be nice and healthy inside,” he says. Speaking as a true optimist, he says the trick is to remain versatile and adaptive to new technologies—and to envision how Canada can one day build Passive Houses just as prolifically as Europe. gb&d

The Austrian Passive House generated a good deal of attention. It also helped convince Wimmers to relocate to Canada’s western coast, half a world removed from a decidedly advanced green building culture. 2014 Passive House Special Edition gb&d


Photo Essay Park Passive

The Dark Knight

Clad in bold, black fiber-cement panels, Park Passive is Seattle’s first certified Passive House. A photographic tour shows the American movement in evolution. PHOTOS BY AARON LEITZ

Left Using just a fraction of the energy of a typical three-story home, Park Passive remains at a comfortable temperature year-round thanks to tightly sealed, high-performance windows. Right This family of four has leveraged the conspicuous design of its modern home by hosting open-house events meant to educate neighbors about passive principles. gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition


2014 Passive House Special Edition gb&d


Photo Essay Park Passive

Right Park Passive proves that style, function, and energy efficiency go hand in hand. Designed to maximize indoor and outdoor space, one of the home’s most unique features is the open stairwell, accented on the exterior and daylit through a series of windows and skylights. gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition


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Photo Essay Park Passive

Below The second-story play area is opened to the first-floor living spaces. Although energy dominates the Passive House conversation, its strategies also create an indoor environment full of fresh air, natural light, and healthful materials.

Opposite Windows throughout the stairwell offer views of Seattle’s Madison Park neighborhood. The placement of the stair coincides with an operable skylight that allows for stack ventilation, further reducing energy use.

Bottom The size of the kitchen hints at the home’s shallow floor plate. The simple geometry of the building helps minimize thermal bridging while three distinct outdoor spaces expand the livable area.

Floor Plans (from top) First, second, third floors

gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition


Case Study Huber ZIP System

gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition


Jung Haus Huber’s easy and economical ZIP System helps GO Logic build Michigan’s first Passive House BY MARY KENNEY / PHOTOS BY KURT JUNG

Jung Haus Location Holly, MI Program Singlefamily residence Size 2,000 ft2 Completion 2013 Certification International Passive House Standard Climate Continental ArchitectGO Logic Sheathing Huber ZIP System

The red-and-silver house is posed on the side of a lake, its many windows giving off a soft yellow glow framed by pines and long grass. The home is reminiscent of an antique farmhouse, a fitting addition to the Michigan countryside. The residence does not broadcast its status as Michigan’s first Passive House, or as the recipient of Fine Homebuilding’s 2014 Home of the Year award. The Jung Haus is far from the first Passive House project undertaken by GO Logic; the Mainebased architecture firm built the LEED-certified Warren Woods Ecology Field Station and Cabins for the University of Chicago, the

TerraHaus student residence hall at Unity College in Maine, and eight residential Passive Houses. Matt O’Malia was one of the principal architects on the Jung Haus project, and he says one of the products that made the design and scope of it possible was Huber Engineered Woods’ ZIP System Sheathing and Tape. The ZIP roof and wall system consists of a series of panels and tape that effectively manages moisture, air sealing, and structural durability. Since air leakage is a crucial consideration for the standards of a Passive House, this product was a major factor in Jung Haus’s construction. 2014 Passive House Special Edition gb&d


Case Study Huber ZIP System

O’Malia says the client and contractor wanted to use the Larsen truss system, which attaches 12-inch-deep trusses on the exterior of a standard two-by-six stud wall to build the insulated walls of the house. This system isn’t typically used by GO Logic, so O’Malia had to be creative in its implementation. “When choosing an appropriate detailing for that, we realized that using the ZIP System on the standard two-by-six stud frame wall would be the best way to solve those problems and get the performance that we needed,” O’Malia says. The ZIP system also proved to be the most cost effective option. It goes up in two steps: installing gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition

the panels and taping the seams. Huber points out that this process results in 40 percent faster installation compared to traditional house wrap and felt. Michigan’s climate made meeting the Passive House standards particularly challenging, and the ZIP System was key in the tight air sealing necessary to keep the home from leaking energy. O’Malia believes that in places like Michigan and Maine, where a cold climate makes achieving the Passive House standard more difficult, Passive Houses have a bright future because of the low-energy, cost-effective performances they deliver. With the ZIP System, going passive has never been easier. gb&d

Above The Huber ZIP System’s durable panels and sealing tape are made to manage moisture and prevent air leakage, making the system ideal for Passive House construction.

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Protect your projects from the elements with ZIP Systemツョ sheathing & tape. Our all-in-one structural panels, with a built-in water resistive barrier, combine with our specially designed ZIP SystemTM tape to help guard your buildings from moisture damage during and after construction. This continuous moisture and air barrier also offers superior drainage and permeance to keep structures dry and improves energy efficiency by significantly reducing air leakage. And panels go up faster and easier to form a stronger, drier seal 窶田reating the ideal building envelope. ZIP up your next project at or visit our call 888.761.7142.

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ツゥHuber Engineered Woods LLC. ZIP System, the accompanying ZIP System logo and design and AdvanTech are trademarks of Huber Engineered Woods LLC. Huber is a registered trademark of J.M. Huber Corporation. Huber Engineered Woods products are covered by various patents. See for details. HUB 3142 06/14


Case Study EuroLine ThermoPlus

Bernhardt Passive Home EuroLine teams up with REHAU to test drive the ThermoPlus window system in Victoria, BC BY MARY KENNEY / PHOTOS COURTESY OF EUROLINE WINDOWS

Tilt and Turn Window Head Detail

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Sill Detail

Jamb Detail


Isbrand Funk of EuroLine Windows and Helmut Grohschaedl of REHAU North America share a goal: to create products that leave the world a better place for future generations. This drive led to EuroLine and REHAU’s involvement in the Passive House movement and the Bernhardt Passive Home in British Columbia. Many factors could have jammed construction of the Bernhardt project before it began. Zoning requirements, a complex T shape, and an enclosed garage outside of the thermal envelope made achieving the air tightness required for a low-energy building challenging. Despite these challenges, the home is on track to be Vancouver Island’s first certified Passive House. Because EuroLine is in the process of rolling out its ThermoPlus window, which uses REHAU’s GENEO product to promise a reduction in energy loss of up to 76 percent, the companies partnered with Rob Bernhardt, project manager at Bernhardt Contracting and current president of the

Canadian Passive House Institute, to test drive the system. Using RAU-FIPRO, a custom composite material, the ThermoPlus tilt-and-turn design combines the best of GENEO with multipoint locking hardware. The windows were key to Bernhardt’s design, which needed to capture heat during the winter but block out heat during the summer. “This did not present a giant leap into unknown territory for EuroLine, as it might for a company coming from mass production of low-end windows,” Funk says. REHAU, like EuroLine, started work on Passive House projects in the early 2000s in Europe, so the Bernhardt home was an extension of the movement’s adoption throughout North America. “We have the expertise and the knowledge, and we are very happy that we have a partner like EuroLine,” Grohschaedl says, “who is embracing this and seeing the opportunities and bringing solutions to the market.” gb&d

Bernhardt Passive Home Location Victoria, BC Size 3,800 ft2 ProgramSinglefamily residence Completion 2013 Certification International Passive House Standard Climate Varied, coastal Architect Cascadia Architects Contractor Bernhardt Contracting Windows EuroLine ThermoPlus Tiltand-Turn

“This did not present a giant leap into unknown territory for EuroLine, as it might for a company coming from mass production of low-end windows.” Isbrand Funk, EuroLine Windows 2014 Passive House Special Edition gb&d


reHaU GeNeo® aNd eUroLiNe wiNdows® – For THe Home oF YoUr dreams.

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Case Study Foamglas Insulation

Zenesis House Foamglas enables a LEED Platinum Passive House in New Jersey to reach zero energy BY MARY KENNEY / PHOTOS BY ERIK VELEZ

gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition

The home at 279 Henry Street in Paramus, New Jersey, started its life in 1949 as a 1,800-square-foot, rectangular residence. Sixty-five years later, its owner and engineer, Metropolitan Building Consulting Group CEO Raj Parikh, is rebuilding it as Zenesis House, a 4,000-square-foot, LEED Platinum and Passive House-certified home that harvests wind and solar energy, maximizes heat exchange with the ground, and collects and purifies water and snowmelt. Asit Parikh, Raj’s son and a green development real estate agent at Nest Seekers International, served as the project’s general contractor and Passive House consultant. The two wanted to demonstrate that a house could be retrofitted as a standard in green living for the same cost as tearing down and reconstructing a new home. “The project was fairly expensive, but when you take into account the many ways a Passive House makes a home more affordable in the long term, it was absolutely cost effective,” Asit says.


Zenesis House Location Paramus, NJ Program Renovation of a single-family residence Size 4,000 ft2 Completion 2014 (expected) Certification International Passive House Standard, LEED Platinum, Net Zero Energy, MBDC Cradle to Cradle (all expected) Climate Mesothermal Architect Erik Velez and Hitesh Parikh Passive House Consultant / General Contractor Asit Parikh Owner Raj Parikh Insulation Foamglas

“When we calculated everything, it became clear that Foamglas was the only material I could use and still achieve all of the standards I had envisioned.” Raj Parikh, Metropolitan Building Consulting Group

Raj knew he wanted to build a house that set new standards in the green building industry, but practical concerns were important to him. A typical complaint of Passive House buildings is that the internal temperature is at a constant that can’t be adjusted, but Parikh took this into consideration with his design. In addition, the net-zero-energy home houses a three-story indoor living wall that filters air, maintains humidity, and offers year-round indoor gardening. A key feature that will enable Zenesis to achieve Passive House and LEED certification is Foamglas, a cellular glass insulator that is flame, moisture, and insect resistant. Pittsburgh Corning Corporation manufactures Foamglas from sand, producing molten glass that is passed through a cellulating oven and heated to create insulated blocks. These blocks can be cut down for use on roofs, walls, foundations, footing, and slabs and are free of toxins like HCFCs, CFCs, and HFCs. Cameo Morningstar, the Northeast regional manager at Foamglas, helped Raj en-

vision the possibilities in Zenesis. He recalls Morningstar demonstrating how to install Foamglas in the Zenesis House, showing off her muscles and know-how. “When we calculated everything, it became clear that Foamglas was the only material I could use and still achieve all of the standards I had envisioned,” he says. Raj hopes Zenesis House will give builders ideas for different projects that they can incorporate into a green home, even if they can’t build everything he has created. Using a combination of solar and geothermal energy, he adds, is a way to make Passive Houses more comfortable and, hopefully, more appealing to homeowners. gb&d

2014 Passive House Special Edition gb&d

gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition

Products Passive Performance


Maximizing Efficiency

Passive House requires smart products, from doors and windows to air and water purifiers. Here are five products taking efficiency to the next level. TEXT BY MARY KENNEY

➊ GENEO Windows by WASCO

➋ ERC 50 by Schüco

➌ CERV by Build Equinox

➍ Vacuum Insulation Panel by Dow Corning

➎ Accelera 300 by Stiebel Eltron

Windows are one of the primary culprits of energy loss, so their performance in a Passive House is crucial. Engineered using REHAU’s GENEO outline, WASCO’s 86mm, six-chamber profiles are available in tilt-and-turn, hopper, and fixed designs.

Installing a new façade is a headache for clients who have to move workers and sit through loud drilling. Shüco’s ERC 50 process removes this irritant with a fast external installation procedure, making Shüco’s system the most efficient, hassle-free façade replacement system on the market.

Air quality management is key in a tightly sealed Passive House. This Conditioning Energy Recovery Ventilator delivers conditioned recirculation and monitors CO2 , VOCs, indoor and outdoor temperature, and humidity.

It could be argued that insulation is the most important component of a low-energy Passive House. Dow Corning’s thermal insulator, consisting of porous core board and non-combustible fumed silica, outperforms competitors’ thermal efficiency.

Water management is easy to overlook in a Passive House but remains a vital component of a low-energy home. With an 80-gallon storage capacity and 10-year warranty, the Accelera 300 can reduce hot water costs by up to 80 percent.

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Last Word Julie Torres Moskovitz

“As a designer, once you’ve done one Passive House project, it’s hard to go back. You can’t help but apply its techniques to all your projects in the future.”


Julie Torres Moskovitz, Fabrica 718

Julie Torres Moskovitz is the principal of Brooklyn-based design firm Fabrica 718 and a certified Passive House Tradesperson. In addition, she is the author of 2013’s The Greenest Home: Superinsulated and Passive House Design.

gb&d 2014 Passive House Special Edition

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Profile for Aaron Lewis

Passive House Special Edition  

Passive House Special Edition