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Passive House Takes Root in the United States

Climate Solutions Special Issue
This article originally appeared in the Climate Solutions Special Issue issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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January 01, 2008
It is abundantly clear that the building sector is a primary contributor of climate-changing pollutants to the environment. Knowing this, we must decide how best to square our building energy needs with those of our environment and of our pocketbook. The Passive House concept—which promises to slash heating energy consumption of buildings by an amazing 90%—represents today’s highest energy standard and most compelling option. Thousands of homes have been built or remodeled to meet the Passive House standard in Europe (see “Germany’s Efficient Homes,” p. 30). Widespread application of the Passive House design here in the United States would have a dramatic impact on energy use. Passive House Born and Bred  The Passive House evolved from the superinsulated buildings of the 1970s, many of which were built in North America. (The Arkansas Project, the Small Homes Council of the University of Illinois, the Canadian National Research Council, and Minnesota’s Housing Finance Agency were some of the agencies that supported the construction of these prototypes.) The movement toward construction of a Passive House made a quantum leap in Europe during the late 1980s, beginning with the introduction of a lower ...

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