Passive House How To

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5. How do I go about creating a Passive House building?

Accomplishing Passive House 3 pillar benchmark criteria requires detailed and diligent energy modeling/calculations during design and quality assurance testing/verifying of building envelope (including doors, windows and penetrations), mechanical/plumbing/electrical systems, and optional energy harvesting systems during construction.

  • Passive House does not mandate or reward for specific strategies or systems to achieve the benchmark criteria, nor is there a single method of meeting the 3 pillar criteria. Approach/strategy is flexible and up to the designers and builders discretion/creativity and cost/availability of materials/components at/near the project site.
  • Prior to construction (new or retrofit) design and modeling/calculations must be prepared to indicate conformance with 3 pillar benchmark criteria. If the building is to be certified, this information must be submitted for review and pre-certification to the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS). Certified Passive House Consultants (CPHC®) have been trained in the skills necessary to prepare or guide the design and calculations.
  • During and at the end of construction inspections and tests must be performed by a qualified independent Rater/Verifier to insure building was constructed to match the design and model/calculations. The most vital tests include:
    • Building envelope air leakage test(s) performed:
      • as soon as building envelope air barrier is in place and not covered/concealed allowing for correction before covering, and
      • when construction complete just prior to occupancy to insure conformance with air leakage framework criteria
    • Balancing/commissioning of mechanical ventilation system to insure total building ventilation rate and individual room exhaust and supply air rates are as designed and energy model calculated
    • Balancing/commissioning of space conditioning systems to insure distribution to each room or space is as design intended and energy model calculated
    • Verifying size, length and insulation on domestic (service) water heating piping to insure they match inputs in energy model calculations
    • Verifying proper operation of equipment, systems and automated controls related to heating, cooling, dehumidification, water heating, pumps, lighting, energy harvesting, etc.
  • If the building is to be certified, inspections and tests must be performed by qualified third party(ies) and documentation submitted to PHIUS for approval.
  • If wish to achieve PHIUS+ certification (which simultaneously obtains the US EPA Energy Star V3 [which uses IECC 2009 as its measure] and US DOE Zero Energy Ready Home [which uses IECC 2009 as its measure] additional site inspections, and verification checklists must be completed by a PHIUS + certified Rater and other members of the project team. PHIUS+ certification is required for all residential projects certified by PHIUS. Commercial projects are to have all of the same tests and verification required by PHIUS, but need not meet the added requirements of Energy Star V3 or Zero Net Ready Home. Some of these tests and inspections are beyond those listed as required by code.
  • Certified Passive House Consultants CPHC® have been trained in skills in what to look for during inspections and how to direct other third parties for testing building envelope air leakage and mechanical ventilation systems.
  • PHIUS certified Raters have received training from PHIUS that provides them the skills and knowledge specific to Passive House buildings that are beyond those required for HERS ratings, Energy Star or the US DoE Challenge Home. Raters must first be a certified RESNET rater with the skills required to energy model, complete tests, commission ventilation and forced air heating cooling/systems and complete inspection checklists in accordance with RESNET protocols.

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Passive House How To