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If you’re planning to build a custom home or renovate your current abode, you have an amazing opportunity to transform the way you live. There are an incredible array of energy-efficient home systems available today, and if you’re planning a new custom home, you should think high-performance from the start.
At present, there is no universal definition of a “high-performing home” in the construction industry. However, there is some consensus in the way the term is used. At Clarum, we believe high-performing homes incorporate the principles of passive home construction, including:
There are a few industry methodologies for creating a high-performance environment, and the passive approach to home building has some unique advantages. Below, we’ve outlined the differences between passive-certified and passive-inspired homes, and the shared benefits of each approach to home building.
To become a certified Passive home, a home must meet very specific standards set by the non-profit organization, Passive House Institute United States (PHIUS).
Unlike LEED and other “point accumulation” green building standards, Passive Home certification is based on actual performance results. To be Passive-Certified, your home must use less than 14 kWh per square foot for annual heating demand, and your total annual source energy cannot exceed 11 kWh per square foot. In addition, the building shell must be airtight with less than 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 pascals.
These energy efficiencies are met by employing a set of advanced building technologies to achieve extreme energy efficiency (they’re also available in Passive-Inspired home construction). A Passive-Certified home is one that employs a set of advanced building technologies to achieve extreme energy efficiency.
Passive-inspired construction incorporates many if not all of the same building techniques and materials to achieve a Passive Home without the certification. This means that you can have a home with all of the same features, technology, and performance goals (or just some of them) while choosing not to pay for the extra costs and rigors of having third-party certification of your structure.
Passive home construction shouldn’t mean sacrificing quality, or aesthetic. High-performance design considerations and building science can be integrated into any style of architecture, and working with a passive-trained home builder will be quicker, easier, and less expensive than doing it on your own. Before the first shovelful of dirt is turned, be sure to sit down and communicate with your architect, builder, and suppliers to review the plans and ensure your new home meets all of your sustainability, efficiency, comfort, and air-quality goals. Live passive, live inspired!