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

R. Rosania.


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.


  1. HI Bob, Your note above says, "PHIUS is in the process of altering PH design standards, and as such, can no longer be considered a true Passivhaus standard". This is not accurate. PHIUS is in the process of STUDYING the realities of bringing the Passivehaus Standard of central europe to the variety of new climate zones presented in North America. We already see signs of issues with doing so that need to be addressed. PHIUS questions the cost/benefit of the attempting to achieve the standard in very northern climates. To their good credit they simply wish to explore the logic of this, and see if adjustments would make the standard more accepted by the US building industry. If you follow the dialogue from the building science community one sees there is merit in this "study". PHIUS and their tech committee also state the process will be completely transparent, town hall like, and they are counting on the entire high performance building science community to way in with their opinions.

    I recommend that all opinions on this topic wait for the facts to be shared, and then make comment on the actual recommendations. Your comment above is premature as the study is in it's infancy, and nothing has been released to form such an opinion on the facts. Everyone's opinion is welcome and encouraged. Keep an eye on the websites and newsletters of the Passive House Institute US and Passive House Alliance US for future announcements.

    So glad to learn of your PH project and wish you the best in achieving your goals. Perhaps you will consider sharing your experience with our community when you are finished.

    With Best Intentions,

    Mark A. Miller
    Executive Director
    Passive House Alliance United States

    1. Mark,

      To be sure, I am most appreciative of PHIUS and the rewarding relationships that I have developed with a number of its members.

      My comment with respect to "alteration" was merely a reaction to the comments/assertions put forth by Dr. Feist and the Passivhaus Institut (which he founded).

      In my view, until such time that there is a reconciliation between PHI and PHIUS, I believe it is only proper to view each as an "independent" [closely related] standard.

      To be clear, I am not making a judgment as to veracity. And having attended a recent PHIUS conference, I certainly appreciate and support the ongoing efforts of PHIUS in raising awareness and recognition of PH design here in the U.S. to both the private and public sectors. Only good things can come out of that effort.

      An aspect of our construction project has already been presented during the most recent conference in Denver. At this point, it has already been completed. It's just that the documentation of the project is only now coming on-line.

      By all means, my wife and I look forward to sharing our experiences, as we have been benefited greatly from the experiences of those that have gone before us!


      Bob R.


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