At this week's meeting with our architect Jamie, we were shown a wonderfully informative PowerPoint presentation about the Passive House Planning Package. The PHPP, once again over simply, is a monstrous spreadsheet containing hundreds of different elements that effect a house's energy performance. There are factors assigned to each of the different building variables which, when all of the numbers are calculated, will give the building a pass or fail score. The certification criteria is specific to 1) energy required for heating, 2) total specific primary energy demand, and 3) air changes (air tightness) of the building. In other words, Passive House is about energy usage. After the house is built, there is a rigorous certification process requiring lots and lots of documentation and an inspection. When completed, it's either Yes or No, certified or not.
Many people confuse the term Passive House with Passive Solar, LEED certified, or a Green Building. Yes, passive solar gains can be a large factor in achieving Passive House standard. Many people who are interested in Passive House strive to use "green" materials and crate as small a carbon footprint as possible with their home. They are related but not the same. I just wanted to clarify what Passive House is and what it isn't.
My friend Ellen Sinreich, a LEED Accredited Professional (greenedgellc.com), said to me, "You don't have to stop there." We should also be concerned with things like water consumption, the materials we choose, the energy it takes to manufacture or import materials, etc. We plan on using low VOC paints, rapidly renewable flooring materials like bamboo and cork, and as many local materials as possible. I'll also plant a large organic vegetable garden and several fruit trees. Man! I can't wait to live in this house.