Passive House

At Construction Management Group, we are excited to be at the forefront of the Passive House movement.  Passive Housing is the gold standard of energy efficient building and requires virtually no energy use for heating or cooling.  The first Passive Homes were built in Germany and Austria 25 years ago and the concept is quickly making its way here to the United States.  The key components to building a passive house are: 

  • Air tight construction
  • Robust exterior insulation on all sides
  • Efficient  whole-house ventilation system
  • Thermal-bridge-free construction
  • High efficiency windows

We truly feel this exciting advancement in residential and commercial construction is poised for explosive growth over the next decade.  Our firm is well equipped and educated to be your top choice for Passive House construction and can partner with you throughout the entire process from design to final build.  

23 Park Place, NY
Ponus Ridge
Solid Garage Doors
Perspective Sketch

The Standard:   Passive House requirements For a building to be considered a Passive House, it must meet the following criteria ( for detailed criteria, please see the building certification section):

  1. The Space Heating Energy Demand is not to exceed 15 kWh per square meter of net living space (treated floor area) per year or 10 W per square meter peak demand.
    In climates where active cooling is needed, the Space Cooling Energy Demand requirement roughly matches the heat demand requirements above, with a slight additional allowance for dehumidification. 
  2. The Primary Energy Demand, the total energy to be used for all domestic applications (heating, hot water and domestic electricity) must not exceed 120 kWh per square meter of treated floor area per year.
  3. In terms of Airtightness, a maximum of 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals pressure (ACH50), as verified with an onsite pressure test (in both pressurized and depressurized states).
  4. Thermal comfort must be met for all living areas during winter as well as in summer, with not more than 10 % of the hours in a given year over 25 °C. For a complete overview of general quality requirements (soft criteria) see Passipedia.

Passive House buildings are planned, optimised and verified with the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP). All of the above criteria are achieved through intelligent design and implementation of the 5 Passive House principles: thermal bridge free design, superior windows, ventilation with heat recovery, quality insulation and airtight construction.   The following basic principles apply for the construction of Passive Houses:

Thermal insulation 
All opaque building components of the exterior envelope of the house must be very well-insulated. For most cool-termperate climates, this means a heat transfer coefficient (U-value) of 0.15 W/(m²K) at the most, i.e. a maximum of 0.15 watts per degree of temperature difference and per square metre of exterior surface are lost.

Passive House windows 
The window frames must be well insulated and fitted with low-e glazings filled with argon or krypton to prevent heat transfer. For most cool-termperate climates, this means a U-value of 0.80 W/(m²K) or less, with g-values around 50% (g-value= total solar transmittance, proportion of the solar energy available for the room).

Ventilation heat recovery 
Efficient heat recovery ventilation is key, allowing for a good indoor air quality and saving energy. In Passive House, at least 75% of the heat from the exhaust air is transferred to the fresh air again by means of a heat exchanger.

Airtightness of the building 
Uncontrolled leakage through gaps must be smaller than 0.6 of the total house volume per hour during a pressure test at 50 Pascal (both pressurised and depressurised).

Absence of thermal bridges 
All edges, corners, connections and penetrations must be planned and executed with great care, so that thermal bridges can be avoided. Thermal bridges which cannot be avoided must be minimised as far as possible.