Design Coalition has been designing very energy-efficient homes since the late 1970s for clients who wanted to achieve the state-of-the-homebuilding-art performance. The explorations of North American and Canadian cold-climate designers had a major impact on building practices, building science and building codes since that time. Those lessons learned travelled across the ocean, and returned in the early 2000s in the form of 'passiv house'. German building scientists and researchers had adapted many of the concepts and created a replicateable package of building techniques, and energy modeling software to go with it.
Passive House has become the most ambitious energy standard in the world. But more importantly, it is an integrated set of design and construction strategies that, when combined, result in deep energy-use reductions (80-90% better than code!). These strategies include passive solar, super-insulation, high-performance windows and doors, extreme air-tightness, and continuous ventilation with energy recovery.
Passive House strategies are based on a conservation approach, tapping the "energy of efficiency" in a cost-effective way before spending money on high-tech systems, such as solar electric. Once the Passive House standard is achieved, the building can easily slide into net-zero or net-positive energy operations with the addition of a smaller, more affordable solar system. Even when not formally certified to the Passive House standard, buildings designed carefully using these techniques far out-perform conventional structures.
A few examples of projects that Design Coalition has recently designed using Passive House Principles:
Design Coalition staffer Christi Weber presented on the subject of Passive House to a variety of audiences, including the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair, Project Home, Madison College, the Madison Area Builder's Association, the Duluth Energy Design Conference, AIA Wisconsin, and more. View two video presentations here.
View PDFs of Christi's presentations at the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair:
For more information about Passive House, visit the Passive House Institute US.