The Energy Nerd that Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

Martin Holladay is stirring the pot over at GBA. He has posted a piece today entitled, Are Passivhaus Requirements Logical or Arbitrary? While I tend to agree with his points in general, I also agree with many of Mike Eliason’s points in his response, A Passivhaus Rebuttal: In Defense of the Standard.

There are clearly lots of ways to design and build a house with very low energy needs. Of all the houses built to the Passivhaus standard thus far, there are bound to be those that are smart (and economical) about how they meet the standard, and those that are forced to rely on one or two methods alone. There will also be examples where the press or marketing is a bit over the top.

Although we are not shooting for Passivhaus certification in our own home, we chose to use as many methods as we could up front to minimize energy loses through the envelope. Factors like orientation, square footage, volume, number and size and type of windows on each side of the house, choice of appliances, etc. all contribute toward this goal.

In the game of trade-offs, if we had decided to build on the north side of the hill rather than the south, or we wanted a ‘great room’ with cathedral ceiling, or big windows on the north side of the house for a great view, it would have required us to beef up on other factors of the envelope in order to get to where we are now.

Check out the articles. I think this is the level of conversation we need in order to craft a better building standard.

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