Why You Should Build a Passive House

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  • 31

    MAY

    2017

Vermont Passive House

Norwich, VT

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Rick Reynolds

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Both Bensonwood and sister company, Unity Homes, strive to achieve super-insulated, super-tight houses that often meet and sometimes exceed Passive House standards of airtightness while offering extraordinary durability, comfort, and wellness.

Passive House Performance for Single and Multi-Family

In September of 2010, the New York Times featured a Passive House story on the front page of its business section: “Can We Build in a Brighter Shade of Green?,”  by Tom Zeller Jr. The story followed the homeowners' journey as they navigated the Passive House landscape. We hoped this might be the start of a trend.

Today, we believe it is more than a trend — it has the potential to be the standard way all houses are built in the future. Why? Because the Passive House standard is the most aggressive way that the construction trades can build homes and multi-family developments that curb greenhouse gases and lessen buildings’ environmental footprint. Passive Houses, even in the harshest northern New England climate, use 90 percent less energy for heating and cooling than code-built homes. All this without sacrificing beauty, and the comfort and well-being of its occupants.

Environmental Impact of Homes and Buildings

Passive House levels of air infiltration--one of the most important measures of home energy performance after triple-pane windows and insulation--dictate that 0.6 ACH at 50 Pascals of pressure be achieved. Blower door tests on Bensonwood and Unity Homes houses indicate that this extremely low level of air infiltration is possible. Moreover, the two companies offer triple-pane windows that meet stringent Passive House standards and Passive House levels of insulation, at the client’s request.

According to certified Passive House Consultant and Bensonwood’s and Unity’s Building Technology Energy and Sustainability Specialist, Rheannon DeMond:

“Building to Passive House standards, or close to them, will free us from our dependency on fossil fuels much faster than our current energy code approach, which allows states to decide which level of code to enforce.  The technology is available to convert to renewable energy sources in place of fossil fuels, but the combination of reducing energy consumption, so that you need less equipment to produce that energy, is the best sustainable solution.”  

Rheannon DeMond

Passive House Consultant

Reasons to Build a Passive House

Building to Passive House standards, or close to them, will free us from our dependency on fossil fuels much faster than our current energy code approach, which allows states to decide which level of code to enforce. True, the technology is available to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources (wind, solar, etc.). But we believe that the combination of using renewable energy sources AND reducing energy consumption — so buildings need less equipment to produce that energy — is the best sustainable solution. Freedom from fossil fuels/wasteful living is a goal that is attainable when you build a Passive House. There are also many other practical reasons to consider Passive House levels of home performance:

  • Affordable Cost of Ownership: Initial construction costs are offset by the massive savings in energy.
  • Acoustic Reduction: Environmental noises are limited.
  • Storm resilience: Even when the power is out, a Passive House can maintain comfortable indoor temperatures.
  • Attainability: Passive House standards can be applied to single family homes, multi-family developments, office buildings and even institutional projects.
  • Freedom from high-tech: Passive House is just that — passively capturing and managing the sun’s energy to heat and cool a building. At the same time, Passive House standards require that air flow is continuously made fresh through air filtration techniques.

Building the Homes of the Future Today

Passive Home standards don’t rely on future technology to implement. Off-the-shelf technologies exist today to build Passive Houses that, over time, cost only marginally more than conventional, code-built homes. Here at Bensonwood, we are constructing Passive Houses that will meet occupants’ housing and energy needs for decades to come.

Should You Build a Passive House?

Well, it’s a matter of priority. Do you spend a little more on organic foods because you believe it benefits the planet? Do you buy local because it supports local economies? The same holds true with the green home movement. It may cost a little more initially to build a Passive House … but what you gain is so much more: Freedom from dependence on fossil fuels, fewer greenhouse emissions that are contributing to climate change, better air quality for you and your family, and the knowledge and assurance that you are making a difference for generations to come.

Start Building Your New Passive Home

Bensonwood is a certified passive house builder

Bensonwood is now a certified passive house builder.

Talk with us today!

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