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Community and Q&A

Indoor Pizza Oven

Mauro_Zammarano | Posted in General Questions on

I am completely new to passive house concept and I am in the process of building my new house in the DC area.
I have 2 questions:
1. Would an indoor pizza wood oven would be a no no for an efficient house? The plan would be to install an oven like the one shown in link below in the kitchen.
2. Is there any engineering company/builder/architect that you would advice in the DC area for proper passive house design?

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  1. Expert Member


    Unlike the PGH concept generally favoured on GBA, Passive House is a performance standard. It means you need to meet certain levels of efficiency, insulation, and air-tightness to get certified. I don't think that would be possible with an unsealed combustion appliance like a wood-fired pizza oven. Even trying to build to the PGH standards with one would be pretty challenging.

    1. Mauro_Zammarano | | #3

      Malcolm thanks, I guess I will drop the idea of the indoor pizza oven then and build it outdoor instead.

      1. Expert Member
        MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #5

        I definitely see the appeal. A restaurant just up the road from me installed one and their pizza and breads are indescribably good.

        Before going to0 far down the Passive H0use road, you may want to read up a bit on PGH. Many of the main advocates contribute to GBA, and there are plenty of articles on this website:

        1. Mauro_Zammarano | | #8

          Malcolm, that's a very good point. I guess my priority is to get a net zero house minimizing costs. So a passive house is not necessarily the best option for me and the pretty good house concept might indeed be a better fit for me.

  2. mark_be | | #2

    See here for links to architects and builders -

    1. Mauro_Zammarano | | #4

      Mark many thanks. I already started working with an architect that unfortunately is not familiar with these concepts. Would selecting a builder with experience on passive house principles good enough at this point?

      1. Expert Member
        NICK KEENAN | | #6

        It has to be designed in. If the builder is willing to consult during the design phase -- and the architect is willing to take his input -- it might work. But it would take a special group of people.

        1. mark_be | | #7

          Yes, absolutely. But even if you have that special group of people, unless one or more has experience using the Passive House Performance Package (PHPP) software, if you somehow reach passive house levels of performance you will have done so accidentally and inefficiently.

          1. Mauro_Zammarano | | #12

            Mark would this apply also to a PGH?

          2. charlie_sullivan | | #18

            One of the best ways to get a PGH is to hire an architect that is certified to do PH, but tell them that it's OK to use their best judgement rather than striving to meet the specific PH criteria. Otherwise, you'll need to interview your architect to judge their level of knowledge of home performance and building science.

      2. mark_be | | #20


        I was unable to reply to your question below, so I am replying here.

        As a retired software developer, I know that when designing anything, all of your goals must be taken into consideration from the beginning of a project in order for it to be successful.

        I am currently functioning as general contractor on an enerphit gut renovation of my early 20th century home. I fully expect to hit close to .3 ach without a lot of jumping through hoops. However, if our architect didn’t design our wall assembly for extreme air tightness, if we didn’t decide to exclude the basement from the thermal envelope, etc. etc. there is no way we could come close to that number.

        I am not really sure what a PGH house really means. It always has struck me as similar to “natural foods” in that it can mean anything you want it to. I see Walter agrees, as he states below. However, designing from the outset for the results you are looking for is critical to the successful completion of any building project. Unfortunately, you might have hired an architect who does not seem to have the background that would be appropriate for your project.

        Note that just because you are building to the passive house standard it does not mean you need to hire any sort of consultant or get certified.

        There seems to be both a lot of antipathy to and ignorance of the passive house standard on this website, which I really don’t understand. I’ve seen it stated here that a passive house would not be recognizable as a house to most people, that it could not have more than very few very small windows, that it is an exercise in virtue signaling and more. Statements that are not true, verging on silly, or both. I wouldn’t make any decision as to how you want to build your house based on the comments you read on any forum.

        And you can decide whether you want to fully meet the standard as you go through the design process and see how close you can get with the funds you are willing to spend. As you know, the point of meeting the passive house standard is to minimize the use of heating/cooling equipment, which I feel is an extremely worthy goal. After all, when you go outside, you dress accordingly and most people don’t carry battery powered heaters or a/c’s with them. “Dress” your house appropriately with insulation and an air barrier and heating/cooling requirements become minimal.

        1. Expert Member
          MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #21


          If there appears to be some antipathy towards the passive house standard I think a lot of that came from the original German iteration which was pretty inflexible, and has dissipated somewhat with the North American version which takes more climate variables into account. Many people have done as you suggest and used the excellent software to model their builds. However beyond that it's hard not to feel it doesn't respond appropriately to the individual circumstances of every project.

          PHG isn't just doing whatever you want. It has a set of principles and guidelines, but lacks any accreditation or firm limits on what you must to do to meet it. The goals are the same. To use your analogy, it's to dress appropriately for the circumstances. What differs is whether you believe there is more than one path to staying warm, or if there are many valid ways to meet that goal.

      3. STEPHEN SHEEHY | | #22

        Our pretty good house had an architect very experienced in efficient design and a builder new to the idea. It worked out fine. I'd be reluctant to think the opposite would work as well. You can't reasonably expect the builder to revise the architect's drawings/specifications to add energy efficiency aspects that should already be on the drawings and in the specs.

        1. Mauro_Zammarano | | #23

          Stephen my builder has a sister company which has built many net zero homes and the architect is willing to work with them but I share your concerns and obviously this is not definitely an ideal solution

  3. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #9

    DC has a pretty mild climate, at least in terms of winter weather. Their summers can be pretty brutal though (I've spent a fair bit of time out there). Perhaps consider a semi-indoor pizza oven instead, using a covered patio or deck outside of your kitchen. This way you can still use the oven regardless of the weather, but it's not inside your home where things like makeup air and air leaks become issues in terms of the energy performance of the home.

    My own vision would be the pizza oven on a deck, or a patio made of pavers, with a vine-covered pergola over it all :-)


    1. Expert Member
      NICK KEENAN | | #10

      Yeah, average daytime high in January is 43F. I'd put the oven outside, it would keep you warm in the cold months and in the summer you could hide inside while the pizza cooks.

    2. Mauro_Zammarano | | #11

      Bill yes a patio sounds like a great solution. It will also provide some shade on the west side during summer. Rather than vines I was thinking to use some sort of fabric mobile structure that can be easily closed during winter to increase light in the adjacent living space.

      1. Expert Member
        BILL WICHERS | | #16

        You could use corrugated polycarbonate panels to build a clear roof, that way you don’t lose much in the way of daylight. You can get those panels in clear and smoked varieties, and they aren’t very expensive.


  4. walta100 | | #13

    Seems to me you need to work on setting clear goals for your new home.

    I see Passive House standards as a one size fits all set of dictate that boil down to thou shall not use more than X number of BTUs per square foot regardless of the cost to build the house. Will the house ever save enough money in fuel costs to pay for the extra insulation is a totally irrelevant question. The only real question is did the consultant get paid the required fee so you get the plaque to hang on the wall.

    Net Zero is ease. Hang enough solar panels on or around any old house and boom it is net zero it just money we can print more.

    Pretty Good House is an open standard and means more or less whatever you want it to mean. I like to think a PGH is the house with the best return on your investments in the house. The house that cost the least to build and operate over the next 20 years when computer modeled using beOPT.


    1. Mauro_Zammarano | | #14

      Walter yes very clear explanation and I am definitely stirring towards a PGH thanks to the suggestions received here. I have a background in engineering so I was wondering if I should try to familiarize myself with beOPT or I should rather rely on professionals because the software is not "user friendly" enough?

      1. Expert Member
        NICK KEENAN | | #15

        It's always good to be as informed as possible. Doing your own calculations gives you a flavor for what they should look like.

      2. walta100 | | #19

        If you want to build your own BEopt model be sure to find the training videos on YouTube and budget 20 hours to invest.

        I like being in control and understanding the compromises but not ever one does or has the time.


  5. Trevor_Lambert | | #17

    Outdoor in an enclosed porch makes much more sense from both an energy perspective and air quality perspective.

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