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To what type of construction does the Passive House system apply? James Jenkins, Certified Passive House Consultant replies.

James-web It is a common misconception in the US that the Standard is only for single family residences.  Passive House is applicable to any building type, new or retrofit. The name “Passive House” originates from the German standard PassivHaus. The German word “Haus” directly translates to “building”. For example, “Haus” can be used to describe a house, factory or any other building. The US is no different, we recognize The Waffle House as a restaurant given the context. The principles that PassivHaus is based upon originate from the super insulated and passive solar housing movement in the US many decades ago. This historical context likely ties passive principles to housing in the US just as waffle implies restaurant. “Passive Conditioned Building” might be a more accurate title but it just doesn’t roll off the tongue.

 The early adopters of Passive House here in the US are primarily applying it to custom single family residences. However, with larger glazing areas, more internal heat gains and potentially more solar heat gain, non-residential buildings have the opportunity to achieve the Standards’ requirements with lower first cost premiums than residential construction. Passive Conditioned Buildings can significantly reduce operational costs for the lifetime of a building without increased maintenance, something any building owner can appreciate regardless of occupancy type. PH Blog - Typology _2__Page_1


James Jenkins, LEED AP BD&C, and Homes, CSBA and Certified Passive House Consultant, acts as Project Manager at O'Brien & Company, a green building consultancy founded in 1991. His work portfolio at the firm includes consulting on all types of sustainable structures, both non-residential and residential structures. Also see James' previous posting entitled "Isn't Passive House a Bit of Overkill?" (It isn't, James explains why.)

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