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Introduction to Passive House

Seattle 1/21/2016

Rob Harrison AIA

on 21 January 2016

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Transcript of Introduction to Passive House

also known as Passivhaus
OK. What IS Passive House?
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. Energy losses are minimized. Any remaining heat demand is provided by an extremely small source. Avoidance of heat gain through shading and window orientation also helps to limit any cooling load, which is similarly minimized. An energy recovery ventilator provides a constant, balanced fresh air supply. The result is an impressive system that not only saves up to 90% of space heating costs, but also provides terrific indoor air quality and superior comfort.
Only Three Requirements
Space heating or cooling demand must be less than 4.75 kBtu/square foot/year.

Primary energy demand must be less than 38 kBtu/square foot/year.

Less than 0.6 air changes per hour when measured at 50 Pascal with a blower door test.
Passivhaus Planning Package
How is it done?
low surface to volume ratio
additional insulation
high performance windows
no thermal bridges
careful attention to air sealing
heat recovery ventilation
optimized with PHPP software
Passivhaus is NOT...
Passivhaus is not "passive solar."
Passivhaus is not "net zero energy."
Passivhaus is not just houses.
Passivhaus is not a comprehensive set of green strategies.
Passivhaus is not "net zero energy."
Passivhaus is not "passive solar."
Passivhaus is not a comprehensive set of green strategies.
LEED Platinum
That's measured according to the German TUV method (DIN-277), which measures to the inside of the walls, doesn't count the area of interior walls, storage areas or stairs above a certain height. For many buildings this means a net area ~20% less than the gross square footage. Therefore Passivhaus heating demand measured against GSF actually ends up ~20% less than 4.75 kBTU/SF/year.
Primary energy (aka "source" energy") includes heating, cooling, appliances, plug loads—everything. In Passivhaus, an energy factor is applied to account for losses in generation and transmission.
Just to give you an idea: An old house might test at >16.0 ACH@50, a typical new house more like 5.0 ACH@50, and an energy-efficient house built with attention to air sealing in the 2.0 ACH@50 range. Getting to 0.6 ACH@50 requires careful detailing by the designer and rigorous follow-through by the builder.
With such a tight building proper ventilation is a must. Code-required ventilation rates for standard houses assume a much leakier envelope, and require a lower amount of ventilation than Passivhaus does. They assume that extra "fresh" air is coming in through the cracks...like through the floor from the crawlspace...down through the insulation in the attic...around the edges of the windows....(Ick!)

Of course, in a Passivhaus you can open the windows too. It's not THAT German.
In the last 24 years, over 50,000 Passivhaus buildings have been built in Western Europe.
Passivhaus is code minimum for all buildings in Brussels as of January 1, 2015.
Multifamily Passive House is being built in New York City & Philadelphia at cost parity.
A 57-unit Passive House building was just completed in Portland.
Multifamily Passive House projects are underway in Alaska, Minnesota, Kansas, New York, Pennsylvania...
CO2 emissions
business as usual --> fully engaged
Our response to climate change will involve three aspects:
We decide now what proportion of each we (and subsequent generations) will experience.
US EUI, source: 76.6 PH = 56% reduction
Bonaparte Cabin Passivhaus, HARRISON architects
Okanogan Highlands, WA
::walls: R-69
::floors: R-96
::roof: R-102
::windows: U=0.11
eg: reduction of carbon emissions through:
energy conservation (Passivhaus, Living Building Challenge)
distributed clean energy production (solar, wind, geothermal)
urban density (reducing transportation energy)
eg: responding to climate disruption by:
relocation of affected populations
seawalls, dikes, flood control
food crop changes
development of vaccines
eg: affects of unmitigated climate disruption:
climate refugees
storms, flooding
economic impacts of all of the above
Rob Harrison cPHc
The gross square footage of the building is 52,000 SF.
The current energy use index (EUI) is 16.
The treated floor area (based on the German DIN 277-2 method) is 39,050 SF.
The limit in Passivhaus for Primary Energy is 38 kBTU/SF/yr.

In Passivhaus, an "energy factor" is applied to various forms of energy to account for generation and transmission losses. For electricity, this factor is 2.7.

Solving for an EUI that would meet Passivhaus:

38 kBTU/SF/yr ÷ 2.7 = 14.07 kBTU/SF/yr. (gives us an annual Primary Energy usage target, taking the electrical energy factor into account.)

39,050 SF (TFA) x 14.07 = 549,434 kBTU/SF/yr (gives us the site annual energy usage using TFA for a building that met Passivhaus)

549,434 kBTU/SF/yr ÷ 52,000 (GSF) = 10.57 (gives us the EUI target for a building that met Passivhaus.)

The building as designed has an EUI of 16. A building that met Passivhaus would have an EUI of 10.5, and would use 66% of the energy of the Cascadia Center as currently designed.

Or, looking at it the other way:

52,000 GSF x 16 (current EUI) = 832,000 kBTU/yr (total annual Primary Energy usage)

Solve for kBTU/SF/yr using TFA.

832,000 kBTU/yr ÷ 39,050 SF (TFA) = 21.3 kBTU/SF/yr

Multiply that by 2.7 (the energy factor for electricity) to get the primary energy usage.

21.3 kBTU/SF/yr x 2.7 = 57.52 kBTU/SF/yr

Passivhaus requires an annual primary energy usage (source energy) of 38 kBTU/SF/yr.

The building as designed exceeds the Passivhaus standard for Primary Energy by a bit over 50%.
Source: IG Passivhaus Osterreich
A Different Paradigm
Conventional Approach
(in a temperate area)
Conventional Approach
(in a cold area)
(in a temperate area)
(in a cold area)
With Passivhaus on the other hand, the "furnace" stays the same (4.75 kBTU/SF/year), and the building envelope varies.
With the conventional approach, the building envelope (insulation & windows) stays (more or less) the same and the size of the "furnace" varies to suit the heat loss.
What will your choice be?
Living Building Challenge
Like "passive solar," Passivhaus does gather and use the warmth of the sun to contribute to heating the building, and it does take into account shading to keep a building cool in summer, but in a Passivhaus you won't find Trombe walls, water walls (or much talk about thermal mass, really), or earth-berming or big expanses of south-facing glass to the exclusion of windows on other sides of the building.
Passivhaus is probably the best way to get to net zero energy, because as you'll see, Passivhaus achieves a greater reduction in energy use than any other current approach--and that's *before* adding any active energy-generating systems.
We'll come back to this building later, to compare its performance with Passivhaus.
Before you continue, take a moment to click on "More" to the right of the forward arrow, and click on Full Screen. You can move forward and backward through the Prezi with the left and right arrows on your keyboard, and zoom in and out with the up and down arrows. OK!
What will your choice be?
energy intelligence
fresh air!
A. Improved Comfort & Fresh Air
B. Increased Durability & Lower Utility Bills
C. Reduced Energy Use -> Carbon Neutrality
Thank you.
The Energy Use Index

Multi-Family Energy Use



(building envelope & ventilation)
Unit & Common Area Ventilation counts for more than
50% of the heating load for buildings in the study group.

“Multi-Family Billing Analysis: New Midrise Buildings in City of Seattle” Ecotope 2010 Report
(286 acres!)
lyrical sustainable design
passive house plus
Passive Buildings can "coast" for days without power, retaining life-saving warmth in winter and staying cool in summer.
Incorporate potable rainwater collection too, and provide essential emergency resources.

The more we do, the less vulnerable populations will suffer.
Passive House + Water Conservation + Waste Reduction =
Source: Pat Park, Catholic Housing Services MacArthur Grant
The Crunch for Non-Profit Housing Corprations
Passive House gets to the 2030 Challenge 80% target TODAY.

Rob Harrison cPHc
206 956-0883

certified passive house consultant
[based on 2012 WA State code = 70]
Passive House Certification
Quality Assurance
like submitting for a building permit

a double check that the project will...
further the mission of the organization
attract committed tenants
perform as expected
be durable
be comfortable

Funding & Incentives
secure funding and incentives only available to certified projects
LIHTC through Washington State Housing Finance Commission
$2.5M available for ultra-low energy pilot project
Orchards at Orenco
PHIUS+ certified
57 affordable units
about 57,000 sf
Owner: REACH
Architect: Ankrom Moisan
Builder: Walsh Construction
PH Consult: Green Hammer
MEP: PAE Consulting Engineers
indoor air quality
Heat Recovery Ventilator
trickle vents & bath fans
Full transcript