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Community and Q&A

PHPP software level of difficulty

Lisa O'Donnell | Posted in PassivHaus on

There are a couple consultants in my area with whom I plan to speak and I was wondering if part of the consultant training includes learning this program and how good/proficient is one out of the gate? I would like to have calculations done for my ‘near’ passive house and need to know how experienced someone should be with this software? Is it crazy difficult? I’ve seen many questions about the software and its challenges and one consultant said it’s 30ish tabs on an Excel document. I’m not getting the house certified but I do see the value in tweaking the structure and most certainly instrumental in deciding mechanicals for the house.

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  1. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Anyone who calls himself or herself a Passive House Consultant should know how to use PHPP. As with builders and architects, not every Passive House Consultant is equally skilled. If you want to interview a Passive House Consultant before signing a contract, ask these questions:

    1. How many Passivhaus projects have you completed?

    2. Do you have one year of energy use data yet for any of your completed projects?

    3. How closely did the energy use data match the PHPP prediction?

    4. If the numbers diverged widely, do you know why?

  2. Lisa O'Donnell | | #2

    okay, good questions to ask! If there is a similar software to calculate heat loads for such a tight home, I could use that. The consultant discussed the complexity of the PHPP software but also said there isn't much else out there that's quite as accurate. If I'm doing a passive solar, passive-ish house, is manual j a joke?

  3. Lisa O'Donnell | | #3

    I read another article about Manual J. It seems if you get an HVAC contractor to use all four manuals, then you can get a pretty decent design no matter what type of house it is.

  4. Jeff Stern | | #4

    PHPP in the right hands and when used in the early stage of the design process can be a great design tool. In my opinion the best approach is to hire an architect that is also a CPHC. Regardless, the process needs to be iterative in order to truly optimize the design.

    Keep in mind that with the low number of completed Passivhaus projects in the US there will be very few consultants out there with more than one completed project more than a year old.

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