What Is a Passive House?

Super-sealing the “building envelope” is the single most cost-effective measure we take to improve the energy efficiency of a zero energy home. We use several proven, air-sealing and insulation techniques, to minimize thermal bridging in our passive homes.

Passive building comprises a set of design principles used to attain a quantifiable, high level of energy efficiency within a specific comfort level.

A passive building is designed and built in accordance with these five building-science principles:

• Uses insulation throughout its entire envelope without any thermal bridging.

• The building envelope is airtight, preventing infiltration of outside air and loss of conditioned air.

• Uses high-performance triple-paned windows and doors. Solar gain is managed to exploit the sun’s energy for heating purposes in the heating season and to minimize overheating during the cooling season.

• Uses balanced heat- and moisture-recovery ventilation.

• Uses a minimal space conditioning system.

• Passive building principles can be applied to all building typologies – from single-family homes to multifamily apartment buildings, offices, and skyscrapers.

Passive design strategy carefully models and balances a comprehensive set of factors including heat emissions from appliances and occupants to keep the building at comfortable and consistent indoor temperatures throughout the heating and cooling seasons. As a result, passive buildings offer tremendous long-term benefits in addition to energy efficiency:

• Superinsulation and airtight construction provide unmatched comfort even in extreme weather conditions.
Continuous mechanical ventilation of fresh filtered air provides superb indoor air quality.

• A comprehensive systems approach to modeling, design, and construction produces extremely resilient buildings.

• Passive building principles offer the best path to Net Zero and Net Positive buildings by minimizing the load that renewables are required to provide.

Solar Hemicycle, Pleasant Valley, NY