Learning About Passive Houses

We had heard about the Passivhaus standards in Europe and thought it would be good to understand this standard for building extremely low energy homes.  Bryan attended an all-day seminar today on passive house design and construction, which was led by Katrin Klingenberg.  The November 2009 issue of Dwell Magazine has a two-page article on the Passive House standard.

Learning About Passive Houses

At Vivian Sam’s suggestion, Bryan attended one of the monthly meetings of the Passive Buildings California chapter, which meets on Sunday afternoons in Berkeley.  It was a good event where Bryan met a number of people that are on the leading edge of high performance homes.

At this meeting, Bryan learned about the free seminar offered by PG&E regarding the Passive House standards so he signed up to attend the session held at the PG&E training center in San Ramon.

Spending the Day in San Ramon

The session on Passive Home design was led by Katrina Klingberg, who is the Executive Director of the Passive House Institute U.S. and who also designed and built the first certified Passive House in the U.S.  Katrina, a German architect, spent the entire day presenting the concepts behind Passive Houses to the 50+ people in the seminar.  She is doing another seminar tomorrow.

Overall, we concluded that the Passive House standards are not very applicable to the climates in the Bay Area.  The standards focus on a significant heating load, as is required in Germany.  The heating load results in a focus on triple-glazed windows and a super-insulated, ultra-tight building envelope.  Although our building performance should result in a very low heating and cooling requirement, the focus of the building design would be on super-insulation and creating an ultra-tight building envelope.

Overall, it was a good day and it was fun to meet and have lunch with Katrin Klingenberg.

Katrin Klingenberg presenting Passive House concepts.

Katrin Klingenberg presenting Passive House concepts.

Passive House seminar at PG&E's training facility in San Ramon, CA.

Passive House seminar at PG&E’s training facility in San Ramon.

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