Passive House Consulting

Randy Nilsson, president at Great Lakes Carpentry, Inc. has recently achieved designation as a PHIUS Certified BuilderSM and joined the ranks of the elite group of builders and designers who are a part of the most energy-efficient building paradigm on the planet: the Passive House.

The Passive House concept represents today's highest energy standard with the promise of slashing the heating energy consumption of buildings by an amazing 90%.

A Passive House is a highly insulated, virtually air-tight building that offers the highest standard of energy efficiency currently available. All heating needs in a typical Passive House can be met by a heater the size of a hair dryer.  Heat from people, lights, appliances and the sun does the rest.

A Passive House is a comprehensive system. "Passive" describes well this system's underlying receptivity and retention capacity. Working with natural resources, free solar energy is captured and applied efficiently, instead of relying predominantly on ‘active’ systems to bring a building to ‘zero’ energy. High performance triple-glazed windows, super-insulation, an airtight building shell, limitation of thermal bridging and balanced energy recovery ventilation make possible extraordinary reductions in energy use and carbon emissions.

A Passive House is a very well-insulated, virtually air-tight building that is primarily heated by passive solar gain and by internal gains from people, electrical equipment, etc. Energy losses are minimized. Any remaining heat demand is provided by an extremely small source. Avoidance of heat gain through shading and window orientation also helps to limit any cooling load, which is similarly minimized. An energy or heat recovery ventilator provides a constant, balanced fresh air supply. The result is an impressive system that not only saves up to 90% of space heating/cooling costs, but also provides a uniquely terrific indoor air quality. Life cycle analysis of the materials used in construction is considered.

PHIUS Certified Builders have taken the four-day PHIUS Certified Builders Training and passed a rigorous exam to earn certification. PHIUS Certified Builders:

  • Understand passive house principles
  • Can meet unique challenges presented by North American climate and market conditions.
  • Have mastered the craftsmanship and techniques--such as air-sealing-- unique to passive house construction.

Passive House Performance Characteristics:

  • Airtight building shell ≤ 0.6 ACH @ 50 Pascal pressure, measured by blower-door test.
  • Annual heat requirement ≤ 15 kWh/m2/year (4.75 kBtu/sf/yr)
  • Primary Energy ≤ 120 kWh/m2/year (38.1 kBtu/sf/yr)

In addition, the following are recommendations, varying with climate:

  • Window u-value ≤ 0.8 W/m2/K
  • Ventilation system with heat recovery with ≥ 75% efficiency with low electric consumption @  0.45 Wh/m3
  • Thermal Bridge Free Construction ≤ 0.01 W/mK

Contact us today. Learn how Great Lakes Carpentry can help you save up to 90% on heating/cooling costs and become part of the solution.

The building science research culminated in the development of the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) which projects detailed heat load, heat loss, and primary energy usage for individual building parameters. The latest version of the PHPP also projects cooling, cooling loads, and latent cooling. Based on feedback from many detailed data logged buildings, the software is constantly refined and incorporates updated calculations for various climates around the world.