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Winners Named in Passivhaus Competition

The U.S.-based Passivhaus organization names the top projects in its first-ever design competition

Posted on Sep 24 2015 by Scott Gibson

Orchards at Orenco, what is now the largest certified Passivhaus structure in the U.S., has been named the overall winner of a design competition sponsored 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. The 57-unit affordable housing project in Hillsboro, Oregon, was judged to be the project that best exemplifies Passivhaus building practices and accelerates their adoption in the U.S.

Construction of the project was detailed in a series of blogs at Green Building Advisor by Mike Steffen, vice president and general manager of the Walsh Construction Company, the general contractor.

Orchards at Orenco was one of a number of projects singled out for recognition in the design competition. Winners were announced by PHIUS at the 10th Annual North American Passive House Conference in Chicago earlier in September. (That conference is not to be confused with the upcoming annual conference of the North American Passive House Network in Vancouver in early October).

The Orchards project, built just outside Portland, Oregon, was also named the winner in the Best Affordable Housing Project category. Ankrom Moisan Architects designed it.

"This competition was a fitting way to celebrate our 10th annual North American Passive House Conference," Katrin Klingenberg, executive director of PHIUS, said in a news release. "And Orchards at Orenco is a perfect illustration of how far passive building has come in that time."

PHIUS said that affordable multifamily projects are the fastest-growing segment of the Passivhaus market. Two other very large projects are, in fact, in development, including a 276-unit project in Kansas City, Missouri, called Second and Delaware.

The second place winner in the Affordable Housing category was Belfield Town Homes in Philadelphia, designed by Plumbob LLC and built by Jig Incorporated.

Other category winners

First and second place awards were also announced in several other categories, including single-family, multifamily, commercial/institutional, and best project by a Certified Passive House Consultant under the age of 35. Here are the results:

  • Single-family. Karuna House, designed by Holst Architecture and built by Hammer & Hand, was the first-place winner. Second place went to a project called Island Passive House on Shaw Island, Washington, which was designed by Tessa Smith and built by Artisans Group.
  • Multifamily. View Haus 5, designed by Bradley Khouri and b9 Architects and built by Cascade Built, was the first place winner in the multifamily project category. R-951, a row house in New York City, was the second place winner. Architects are listed as certified consultant Paul A. Castrucci and Grayson Jordan, project architect.
  • Commercial/institutional. The Sunshine Health Facilities Residential Building, a 58-bed mental health facility in Spokane Valley, Washington, won top honors. The project was designed by Sam Rodell and built by Jon Hawley. Second place went to the Warren Woods Ecological Field Station in Three Oaks, Michigan, which was designed and built by GO Logic.
  • Under 35. There was a tie for the best project by a Certified Passive House Consultant under 35: the EcoMOD South project in South Boston, Virginia, by Barbara Gehrung, and Island Passive House by Tessa Smith.


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