When I visited Berlin in 2013, my wife and I went to see Efficiency House Plus, an experiment in a house producing more energy than it consumes. This is the next generation of Passive House construction—buildings with ultra-low energy needs—that has become commonplace in Europe.
So, I was happy to see at least some awareness of Passive House construction in North America, with the bombastic headline The House That Could Save the World. There was even a pretty good summary of Passive House principles:
Orient a building to take advantage of solar heating; install plenty of insulation and topnotch windows and doors to seal out the drafts; let the structure’s energy draw upon heat from appliances and human bodies.
It’s like feng shui for geeks, a way of engineering that turns a house into a fine tuned machine—and with performance-based data to back it up. The technology is in the design. The actual equipment—the heating and cooling units—consists of nothing more than two fans and a radiator.
I really enjoy that the article profiles an affordable housing prjoect built to Passive House standards, something that I hope we see more of in coming years, even if we’re a decade or two behind Europe.