First Passive House Single Family Home in Pennsylvania: Designed to Exceed Passivhaus Building Standards
First Passive House Single Family Home in Pennsylvania
The purpose of the blog is to serve as online documentation of our Passive House construction project, the first passive house single family home built in Pennsylvania.
Although the home has already been constructed, we wanted to provide assistance to others interested in building their home that conforms to the most stringent and ambitious energy efficiency design criteria (Passive House or the German-term Passivhaus) in existence.
Since I have not found a single authoritative source online (or otherwise) of information about how to go about designing and building a Passive House, I have had to rely on other colleagues with whom I have met over the construction period of our home. Without them, this project would not have been possible and I am eternally grateful for their knowledge, experience, and inspiration.
I would like to impart the same to others interested in pushing the outside of the envelope of what is actually achievable in building construction and perhaps some of what we did wrong and what we did right (ie; the good, the bad, and the ugly), will serve that end.
To be sure, the following articles serve to chronicle our experiences and choices. In no way, am I suggesting that every choice or step we made was the most optimal or correct. And to be frank, looking back I would have made certain decisions differently. There is more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak, and our project was just one way...for better or for worse.
A little background about myself:
I did not start out as professional home builder, which I believe was an asset, not a liability, as the building techniques employed in our construction project were fresh, unique, and oftentimes run counter to conventional thinking. Without having the historical mindset of how a home "should" be built, I found myself most open to these new techniques free of historical biases that would discourage implementing them.
I have BS in Computer Science from RPI and am a co-founder of an Information Technology consulting business which focuses on the Healthcare industry. I have a strong technical and engineering foundation while possessing a love for the artistry and am very concerned about our environment and wildlife habitat. Having a scientific background, empowered me to have faith in the individuals and the science and methodology related to Passive House construction.
As a side note: I am personally disappointed that it appears that most "environmental issues" are championed by the "progressive" side of the political spectrum. So, instead of simply being critical of the current state of our two party political system, I decided that I was going to lead by example and be a (small) force for change in the status quo. I like to think of myself as being independently minded and not constrained by "conventional wisdom," which I believe are requisites for these ambitious undertakings.
As we have constructed our home, we have assembled a team of sub-contractors who have successfully contributed to making our vision a reality. It is my aspiration that we will take what we have learned on this project and apply it to building more homes for other interested in living in one of the most energy efficient and healthy homes available.
If you have chosen to undertake or oversee the construction of a passivhaus, I certainly hope our experiences outlined here can serve you to that end.
Please, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Passivhaus Institut (PHI)
PHIUS: Passive House Institute US (no longer affiliated with PHI)
Note: Throughout this blog I will use the terms Passive House and Passivhaus interchangeably as Passive House is the English interpretation of the German word Passivhaus ('haus' refers to buildings in general, not specifically houses). PHIUS is in the process of altering PH design and certification methodologies, and therefore, in my opinion, can no longer be considered, in the strictest sense, a pure Passivhaus standard.