Green Month has provided the opportunity for designers to share insights in sustainability with the wider design studio community. Last month, Lee Morrissette attended a conference on Passive Housing and used this occasion to inform the rest of the office about what he had learned and what we as a studio can take from the concepts of passive housing and use on future projects.
The ideas behind Passive Housing formalized in the 1970s during the oil embargo as a way to become less dependent on foreign energy. From these beginnings, the movement developed schools of thought in both the US and Germany to design in ways that use less energy from the outset. The most important of these concepts is utilizing superb insulation; passive housing proponents believe that by using high tech data analysis, designers and builders can employ low tech solutions to reduce energy consumption. Other strategies include optimizing heat and moisture ventilation systems, air tight barriers, triple-paned windows, and managing solar gains. To put it more simply, passive housing aims to “maximize your gains, and minimize your losses.” For more in-depth information, be sure to explore the Passive Housing Institute US (PHIUS) website.
By integrating principles of passive housing with current ideas about LEED, sustainability, and net zero energy, we can reduce energy consumption and, in some cases, create or capture our own energy on site to preserve our planet for generations to come.