Leave it to Germany to create Passivhaus, an extremely rigorous standard for home energy efficiency that makes houses so efficient that they can take on a German winter with nothing more than the heat from a hair dryer.
The Passivhaus system uses technologies that are available today, and there are over 20,000 Passivhaus homes in the world (though, only about 7 in the U.S.) The standards require a good mix of high-tech (heat-exchange ventilators and fancy triple-pained windows) and low-tech (big thick, well-insulated walls.)
Of course, all of this makes the homes difficult (and expensive) to build. The hardest part is making the homes nearly airtight. The foundation walls and ceiling all have to seal together perfectly. In effect, a Passivhaus home could almost exist on the surface of Mars. Making them air-tight also means they need special ventilators that pump in fresh air without pumping out the home's heat. These heat-exchange ventilators are becoming fairly common, I've even got one in my house, though it's not nearly as air-tight as a Passivhaus home.
All of this adds up to a home that can be as much as double the cost per square foot of your average American home. Of course, we're talking about current average American homes, which, we all must admit, haven't been the most well-built buildings in the world.
In the end, Passivhaus blows even LEED Platinum out of the water, requiring 70% less energy for heating than a LEED certified home. Most days of the year, you can literally heat your home with body heat...if you play enough DDR.
written by Ben, June 09, 2009
written by Simon Kellett, June 09, 2009
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written by Fred, June 24, 2009
written by Rachel, October 03, 2010
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