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Community and Q&A

Location matters?

I-Ting Chung | Posted in PassivHaus on

Hi, I’m a graduate student working on my thesis project called “Eco-Solo,” which means that people living in a one-person household would consume more energy than other kinds of households.

My direction is to create cohousing in high-density urban areas so people can share energy and equipment. Instead of conserving energy I also try to apply passive techniques into apartments in urban areas.

However, as far as I have researched, most passive techniques, it seems, can only apply to a “house” in the “suburbs.” Do you think it is possible to create a net-zero home in an apartment (for example, in a building that contains 5 floors) in an urban area?

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  1. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #1


  2. I-Ting Chung | | #2

    Can you talk about what the possibilities are?

  3. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #3

    Join PH, best idea I have.

  4. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    I-Ting Chung,
    I addressed your question in an article I wrote for Environmental Building News. Here's what I wrote:

    "Designers working on net-zero-energy buildings face two basic tasks: reducing building energy loads as much as possible, and designing a roof that is large enough to accommodate the necessary PV array.

    "Designing a multi-story, net-zero-energy building is very challenging. Given the same footprint, a multi-story building has greater space conditioning, lighting, and plug loads—but no more roof area—than a single-story building. A recent ASHRAE Journal article (“How High Can You Go?” by Duncan Phillips, Meiring Beyers, and Joel Good) concludes that “the maximum height of a zero-energy building in Abu Dhabi, UAE, is approximately two stories, according to modeling done by the authors.” The table below shows how building size and roof type affects the maximum size of PV arrays and the energy budget for a building in Vermont and one in Las Vegas; a two-story house has approximately half the allowable energy budget of a single-story house."

    The table that accompanied the discussion is shown below. You can read the whole article here:

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