Friday, January 28, 2011

If I Ever Build a House, It'll Be a Passivhaus

In case you've never heard of them before, it's time to learn, because Passivhauses are the way of the future:
Architects in many countries, in attempts to meet new energy efficiency standards like the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standard in the United States, are designing homes with better insulation and high-efficiency appliances, as well as tapping into alternative sources of power, like solar panels and wind turbines. 
The concept of the passive house ... approaches the challenge from a different angle. Using ultrathick insulation and complex doors and windows, the architect engineers a home encased in an airtight shell, so that barely any heat escapes and barely any cold seeps in. That means a passive house can be warmed not only by the sun, but also by the heat from appliances and even from occupants’ bodies.
 And it manages to do this without stagnant air or mold problems:
New passive houses use an ingenious central ventilation system. The warm air going out passes side by side with clean, cold air coming in, exchanging heat with 90 percent efficiency.
It's an exciting day for Passivhaus people in the U.S., as Good reports that New York City just got it's first passivhaus:

Of course, what's most exciting is the thermogram, which demonstrates the extreme energy efficiency of this building, especially when compared to the buildings next to it:

And yes, you can see that its windows are more efficient than its walls - why are the rest of us in the U.S. stuck with money-wasting sliding windows, when Europe has much more efficient hinged windows?

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