Getting To Zero Net Energy with Passive House
Less than three years from now, in the year 2020, every new residential structure built in California will be required to be “zero net energy,” generating as much energy as its occupants will use over the course of one year.
Energy consultants and residential developers are nervous over this impending regulation – which is creeping up on us like the San Andreas fault.
“Arcolution is poised to accommodate zero net energy residential projects, not in two years, but today,” says Eve Reynolds, principal of the architecture firm based in Silver Lake. “Are you aware that there is already a building standard that has been in use for over twenty five years throughout the world, which has seen the construction of tens of thousands of low- and energy-neutral structures?”
Passive House (PH) is a building standard for ultra-energy-efficiency in buildings. Without prescribing building type or style, Passive House requires a super efficient building envelope – well insulated and of airtight construction. A continually operating, heat exchanging ventilation system assures the healthiest and most comfortable interior environment.
The efficiencies of this standard minimize energy devoted to heating and cooling the space, thus “reducing energy consumption of buildings by up to 80%,” claims Passive House California (PHCA), a leading proponent of today’s highest energy standard. “When coupled with renewable energy systems, such as solar, Passive House puts zero energy buildings within reach.” The roof-mounted solar PV array is sized to provide the occupants’ entire electric load for the year, making Passive House the go-to zero net energy standard.
Certifying a Passive House requires completing and satisfying a software package in which every detail of the house is considered: compactness of design, orientation, glazing, door sizes and openings, insulation, etc. “The software is the nuts and bolts, geekyside of the building standard. Not all homeowners understand that, but what they will know is that their Passive House is the most comfortable house they will ever live in,” Eve says.
Arcolution ‘s project with owners Shelle Higgins and Xavier Gaucher (himself a Passive House Consultant) is one of the very first Passive Houses in Los Angeles. Follow Arcolution LLC on Facebook for updates and photos of this and other projects.