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Passive House Institute U.S. Starts Training Builders

Until recently, PHIUS focused its training sessions on designers and architects — but now it is beginning to focus on builders

Posted on Jan 25 2013 by Patrick McCombe

A new training program developed and presented by the Passive HouseA 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. Institute U.S. aims to get builders and remodelers up to speed on the Passive House standard. Among the topics covered during the four-day program are envelope details, HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. systems, and bidding on Passivhaus projects.

The curriculum for the new training program has been developed by three experienced Passivhaus builders: Dan Whitmore, Adam Cohen, and Mike Kernagis.

(Dan Whitmore built the first Passivhaus building in Seattle; for more information on that project, see Visiting Passivhaus Job Sites in Washington State. Adam Cohen is a builder in Roanoke, Virginia; for more information on Adam Cohen, see Passivhaus Practitioners Share Their Success Stories.)

Learn how to talk to electricians

Tim Linn, a builder form Milwaukee who went through the program in the fall of 2012, found it valuable. “The training isolates the particular details a builder needs to focus on and demonstrates different ways of properly executing these details,” said Linn.

The program is also designed to give Passivhaus builders strategies for dealing with subcontractors and clients. Tim Linn notedd, “I now know how to explain to my electrician why I want him to gasket a penetration in the building envelopeExterior components of a house that provide protection from colder (and warmer) outdoor temperatures and precipitation; includes the house foundation, framed exterior walls, roof or ceiling, and insulation, and air sealing materials.. I can also explain to my client why he can’t choose a vapor-impermeable finish for his interior walls.”

Course participants who pass the qualifying exam at the end of the course become PHIUS Certified Builders.

The next open class will be held April 3-6, 2013, at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, Colorado. The dates and locations of future classes will be announced later.

General registration costs $800; Passive House Alliance US (PHAUS) members save $50.

More information is available at this link: PHIUS Builders Training.

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  1. John Moore

Jan 25, 2013 8:08 PM ET

for those interested in an
by mike eliason

for those interested in an accredited passive house tradesperson course - there is one offered on behalf of the passive house institute by passive house academy.!CPHC%202.25.13%20NYC/ccqf

and despite the incorrect proclamations by PHIUS associates, courses are taught in I-P with a north american construction focus. hope they roll out to the west coast soon...

Jan 28, 2013 6:42 PM ET

Response to Mike Eliason
by Adam Cohen

Mike, as a co creator of the Builder's course referenced in this article, I want to make several things clear for readers.

This course was created for the US Passive house market by Dan Whitmore, Mike Kernagis and myself in collaboration with over 20 Passive house builders. It functions to inform and educate, but more importantly to offer real world experience in the on site implementation of Passive House means and methods as well as counseling and advice to both the practical and business concerns specific to Passivhaus. This course compliments other courses out there, including PHA's. The PHA offers a tradesman certification, which differs from the course we offer, The PHIUS course covers not only the tradesman aspect, but more importantly has a focus on the risks and liability to the Passive House Contractor and guidance in both problem solving and (more importantly) problem avoidance.

Also, I had not heard any rumors about courses only offered in SI. While I agree that it is a much more enlightened, logical and intuitive system than the antiquated inch pound, I am afraid we are stuck with IP in the US and I doubt anyone but the most gullible would believe it will change anytime soon or that practitioners would only offer courses in SI in the US. So whomever the "associate" you refer to, I suggest they must have pulling your leg.

~ Cheers!

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