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Green Building News

Here Are the Basics on Passivhaus

The North American Passive House Network publishes a free e-book that explains what this building technique is all about and offers some examples

Passivhaus explained: If you'd like a primer on what Passivhaus and net-zero construction are all about, here's your chance.

The North American Passive House Network has published an e-book explaining the basics of Passivhaus and net-zero-energy construction techniques. It’s a free download.

Net Zero Energy Buildings: Passive House + Renewables makes the case that with very low air infiltration rates and lots of insulation, Passivhaus buildings are natural candidates for net-zero-energy operation with the incorporation of some renewable energy.

The book, written by Mary James of Low Carbon Productions, explains the fundamentals of Passivhaus structures: high levels of insulation, thermally insulated window frames with high-quality glazing, techniques that minimize thermal bridging, low rates of air leakage, and mechanical ventilation systems.

A section called “Leading Regions” tours areas where Passivhaus construction has been particularly successful. They include parts of Europe, Canada, and both New York and San Francisco.

Individual projects are showcased in a section called “Beacons.” Each description offers a summary of the project along with a spec box detailing predicted heating and cooling energy, square footage, and air leakage. You’ll get the very basics of construction, but no detailed descriptions or drawings. However, links at the bottom of each description will take readers to one or more web sites where more information may be available — for example, web sites maintained by project architects or renewable energy system contractors who worked on the projects.

There are examples of both new construction and retrofits, single-family and multifamily. Profiled projects come from all over the country.


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