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Passive Homes Asserted

Chad Fabry

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From the outside, there is nothing unusual about the stylish new gray and orange row houses in the Kranichstein District, with wreaths on the doors and Christmas lights twinkling through a freezing drizzle. But these houses are part of a revolution in building design: There are no drafts, no cold tile floors, no snuggling under blankets until the furnace kicks in. There is, in fact, no furnace.

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That's interesting, but that last sentence or two suggests it won't be a big success in the U.S. as is, at least not from the middle class up (not recommended for those wanting more than 500 sq. ft. per person). It could be useful for starter houses or public housing, though I notice they don't mention AC at all. There aren't many places in this country where AC is totally unnecessary. Surely it could added (?).

Then again, you would think adding an entire high-efficiency HVAC system to take advantage of the super-insulating and hermetic sealing would still produce an extremely efficient house.

Brian G.

The Passive-Aggressive House?

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This is not a complicated thing, and it's not new. Fascinating as ever, though.

We were building houses in 1979 using the (then new) idea of 2x6 exterior walls, foam panel insulation to cut thermal bridging, R48 attics, triple glazing, airlock entries, etc. Approx. square footage around 2500.

Annual heating cost $187. Adjusted for inflation, maybe that would be $600 now.

The cheapest and most effective methods for building energy efficient structures are readily available, have been around for a couple decades, require little training for installers, and don't do anything to affect exterior appearance or interior living space, i.e., insulation.

They're just not sexy and you can't show them off to your neighbors.

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