The Passive House building standard, with its intense focus on energy efficiency (Passive House buildings tend to use 70-90% less energy for heating and cooling than existing buildings), is gaining major momentum in our region. This method of design and construction intersects several important topics in the world of high-performance buildings, including resilient design and carbon neutrality.
One of the area’s most recently completed projects pursuing the standard is the home of Gary Gardner, a founding member of Passive House Western PA (PHWPA). Gary and his wife just moved into their single-story, 2,400-sf home and are awaiting word of official certification from the Passive House Institute of the U.S. (PHIUS). Gary has invited friends of GBA and PHWPA to visit his home and learn about his goals and motivations, as well as lessons learned throughout the design and construction process.
This is a great opportunity to see how this stringent building standard is being implemented in a nearby residence. Anyone designing and building to the Passive House standard must engage a variety of techniques to meet the requirements for building envelope air tightness. There are also major considerations for energy demand reduction, efficiencies, and on-site renewable generation. Here are a few strategies we’ll learn about on our visit to Gary’s home:
-This home employs continuous insulation throughout the airtight building envelope, including the use of Polyiso (a type of rigid foam board insulation with high R-value) and spray-foam insulation in the roof and walls
– High R-values are maintained throughout this home’s envelope. Including:
– Walls: R67.1
– Roof: R78.1
– Floor Slab: R71.4
– The Gardners installed a Mitsubishi Mini-Split Heat Pump for all electric heating and cooling
– An Ultimate Air Energy Recovery Ventilator that uses a ground source heat loop to pre-treat all ventilation and capture waste heat from exhausted air.
– The Gardners added 5 solar-PV panels, creating a total of 12.6 kWh for November 2017 (too new for monthly averages) to offset Primary Energy use.
– Other sustainable features in the home include:
– Dual-flush toilets
– Rainwater harvesting system (water from the roof and driveway are diverted into a 600-gallon underground cistern)
– Ground cover that will not require fertilizer or irrigation
The Gardners anticipate the achievement of PHIUS certification, and the home has already tested successfully for certain performance metrics, including heat demand, primary power generation through the PV panels, and a blower door test.
On this building tour, we’ll gain insights from the homeowners and the builder, and get a chance to explore the home. Light refreshments will be provided. This home is located in Beaver County, and the exact address will be provided prior to the event to those who register. If you would like to explore the Beaver area following the event, here are a few suggestions from the homeowners on where you may want to grab dinner after the tour:
3:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. – Opening comments from the homeowners and builder
3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. – Rotating tours around the home
Continuous loop slide show of construction in progress will be shown.
1. Understand the requirements of the Passive House (PHIUS+) standard
2. Understand the principles of Passive House construction and how this type of design can result in more efficient, comfortable, and resilient buildings
3. Explore techniques used to achieve an air-tight envelope (air tightness goal of 0.6 air-changes at 50 Pascals)
4. Learn about a variety of building products and strategies that can help one achieve Passive House, as well as lessons learned from the design and construction process
Thanks to our event co-hosts at Passive House Western Pennsylvania.
This event is pending approval for 1.5 GBCI CEUs and for 1.5 AIA LU hours.
Partnering with USGBC and AIA, GBA makes it easy for our members to report continuing education credits. Please provide your GBCI and/or AIA number so we can auto-report your credits (for applicable events). Non-members can still earn continuing education credits but will need to self-report their GBCI CEUs.