More Americans Need to Learn About the Benefits of Building a "Passive House"


Couple in Vermont uses “Passive House” techniques to build a house in Vermont without a furnce

Barbara and Steven Landau are currently building a 3-bedroom, timber framed, 2,000-square-foot home in Vermont (read: it’s freaking cold there). What makes this home unique is its use of “passive building” which keeps the home so efficiently that, even in Vermont, the home doesn’t even use a furnace. The builders even advised them to leave out a fireplace for fear that it would make the home too warm.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/bcvideo/1.0/iframe/embed.html?videoId=1248069086506&playerType=embed

Never heard of a “passive house”? Join the club. The Landau’s home is one of only a dozen or so homes in all of the US to be built to be certified as a “passive house”. While passive homes are becoming almost commonplace in most of Europe, most Americans don’t even know they exist.

Concerned about it getting too hot in the summer? No worries. A passive house (built 20 years ago!) in Germany stayed cool even during some of the hottest summers on record in Europe. “Even during the extremely hot European Summer in 2003 we were able to keep our Passive House cool without a cooling system (without active air conditioning) – the same was true during the hottest month ever measured sofar in Germany, July 2006.”

Here’s a great infographic about the different parts that make up a passive house.

In Europe, where passive houses are more common, the cost of a passive house only adds about 2%-3% to a home while the cost of building one in America can add up to 10%-15% simply because the materials needed to use it aren’t plentiful and drive the rates up.

Can you imagine the difference we could make if we got the word out well enough that 20% of all homes built in the next 10 years were built using passive housing technology. Just imagine the energy savings and the incalculable savings to the environment.

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