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A Documentary Film on the Passivhaus Movement

Charlie Hoxie's new movie can be viewed online for free

Posted on Jul 2 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Documentary filmmaker Charlie Hoxie has made an excellent new 21-minute documentary film on the PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. movement. Fortunately, the entire film has be posted for viewing on the Four Seven Five website.

The English-language movie includes interviews with European and American designers and builders. Regular GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com readers will probably recognize a few of Hoxie's interview subjects, including Wolfgang Feist, Henry Gifford, Sam McAfee, and David White.

Energy projections versus energy use

The filmmaker notes, “The points awarded for energy efficiency [for LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. -certified buildings] are based on predictions of how much energy the buildings will use. Unlike Passivhaus, LEED buildings are not required to meet a defined benchmark of actual energy performance.” This stretches the truth somewhat, since Passivhaus buildings (like LEED buildings) are certified based on energy-modeling projections, not actual energy-use data. (To read about a Passivhaus-certified home that used far more energy than projected, see Occupant Behavior Makes a Difference.)

Here's the link to see the movie: Passive Passion by Charlie Hoxie.


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  1. Passive Passion

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