Passive House in Georgia …. Anyone?

Well, I finally did it !!! For several years I have postponed my training as Passive House Builder. I always found a reason for NOT following through with the official process. Whether it was too costly to get toIMG_8562 the training location, or we had exceeded our budget for continuing education and/or conferences for the year, or something  else. Now, I wish I had done it sooner.

We spent the entire week last week training with the brightest minds in Passive House ( PHIUS). Adan Cohen, and Dan Whitmore were one of the early adopters of Passive House, and their passion and knowledge in the subject matter is unparalleled. In attendance, we had builders from all walks of life. Some with little experience on high performance home, and others with several PHIUS homes under there belt. Most impressive was that the training was in Waitsfield, VT and even that it was on what I consider a “remote” area, more than 30 people signed up.

I really enjoy these type of groups as the networking opportunities are priceless. I have had similar experiences with Sam Rashkin boot camps, and what happens is that everyone is willing to share their experiences, and lessons learned. This is invaluable for me as a builder and consultant as it’s difficult to get this type of behavior of openness when you are talking to others that perhaps are “competitors” in your market place. Even worse, is the fact that only a handful of custom home builders in Georgia ( Atlanta-Athens ) are beginning to play with the idea of high performance. So, who do you talk and learn from? I believe Imery Group has been pioneers in adopting  high performance healthy home practices as early as 2009, and to remain at the top of our game, this is precisely what we need it – an overdose of collaboration and learning the methodology  of Passive House construction.

What I found truly remarkable is the Passive House approach to high performance of smart homes. They follow the KISS principle – keep it simple s…Passive House is a methodology  that looks at a home in a holistic way, and takes all the things that impacts a home’s performance, and optimizes them to deliver unparalleled comfort, low utility bills and crisp breathing air. Is a synergistic exercise !!!

Without getting too technical, it boils down to 3 criteria. I. PRIMARY ENERGY :  How do we contribute to society by reducing the need of power – source energy.  II. CONDITIONED ENERGY: How much capacity and power do we need to deal with : 1) Annual Heating Demand, 2) Heating Peak Load 3) Annual Cooling Demand, 4) Cooling Peak Load, and last III. AIR TIGHTNESS: Envelope Leakage reduction . It’s basically about building a house the right way ( controlled layers ), make use of energy as little as possible ( super insulated and airtight envelope ), and ventilated right ( comfort ). In practice, we want to build a house which is insulated and airtight similar to a water cooler, and then punch a hole to bring natural air and keep it as comfortable, healthy and efficient as possible. As compared to green building programs, PHIUS has no prescriptive paths, no minimum point requirements, no restrictions – only energy targets. You are only bound by your imagination, and budget.

I have personally said many times that if you want to be green and sustainable, reducing your energy consumption is the best way to do so, and conventional homes use a lot. It costs so much ( environmentally, socially  and economically ) to produce and distribute a unit of power that it makes so much sense to use as little as posible. In the US, we need to produce at the source 3 units to deliver 1 unit at the site, very wasteful. Passive House (PHIUS) delivers on that matter by focusing at source energy, and creating a framework for which Passive House builders and consultant can come up with design solution to reduce our negative effect on a societal level. The key is putting together as early as possible the right team, which should be at minimum your Passive House builder, and/or consultant. It’s the only way to embrace an integrated design approach.

Although we have built several Net Zero Homes, and implement passive design strategies, we hope to be writing soon on our experience on building our first truly Passive House, until next!!!

By |2018-10-09T17:48:13+00:00March 28th, 2017|Company News, Green Building|

About the Author:

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Luis Imery is a one-of-kind builder and green rater whose work is honest, educational and inspirational. He carefully takes each homeowner in hand and step-by-step reveals all the great benefits that high performance construction offer — all within your budget.