The passive house is a home that provides thermal comfort without the use of “conventional” heating, ie the boiler and radiators, or similar systems. The energy needed to balance the heat of the building is typically provided with non-conventional systems (residential solar power or heat pump to heat the air of the energy recovery controlled ventilation).
The conventional heating system can be eliminated if the energy needed inside the house is very low, conventionally less than 5 kWh per square foot per year. These benefits are obtained with a very careful design, especially with regard to the sun, with the adoption of high-performance thermal insulation on outside walls, roof and glass walls and through the adoption of controlled ventilation systems for energy recovery and with solar panel installation.
Passive house has only three criteria:
- a frugal annual heating – cooling allowance of 4,733 BTU (British thermal unit, a traditional unit of energy equal to about 1,055 joules) per square foot
- an annual cap on primary energy of 11,1 kilowatt hours per square foot for all energy needs including heating and cooling, along with water heating, appliances, and other devices
- the building must be essentially airtight with 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 pascals of pressure.
Each benchmark is many times lower than the targets set by current U.S. energy codes and guidelines.
Passive houses are born in Sweden and are used mainly in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands and in other northern European countries. The first certified passive house project in the Unites States was actually an educational building. Completed in 2006 the BioHaus was designed by architect Stephen Tanner for the Concordia Language Villages campus in Bemidji, Minnesota.
The cost to build or get built a passive house made of wood can vary enormously. It depends on the type of construction required, the quality of materials and assembly. It depends also if you choice environmentally friendly products like Residential Solar Power.