Zero-Energy Laws Spur Growth in Passive House Certification
A net-zero requirement for new construction has helped quadruple the popularity of Passive House—even though the law isn’t even in full effect yet. Those are among the findings of a recent report on market uptake of high performance building practices from the not-for-profit think tank Pembina Institute.
“The number of Passive House units in North America has quadrupled in the last year, and a quarter of these are in Vancouver alone,” said Dylan Heerema, an analyst for the Pembina Institute, quoted in Proud Green Building.
The City of Vancouver passed its Zero Emissions Building Plan in August 2016, requiring that all new construction emit zero operational carbon by 2030. City officials have recommended the Passive House building standard as a framework for fulfilling the plan because—unlike LEED and similar whole-building rating systems—it focuses exclusively on reducing energy use.
“As industry capacity develops and more builders get on board, we can expect the added cost of building to near-zero emission standards to fall or even disappear,” argued Heerema. “Factor in lower bills for energy and maintenance, and green buildings will increasingly become an affordable housing option.”
The number of living units has increased by a factor of four, the report claims, but that is not the only indicator of growth in the certification’s popularity. Single-family detached homes are the most common type of project with Passive House certification, but the size of Passive House projects is also increasing, according to the Pembina Institute report, which estimated that there are now two million square feet of Passive House-certified buildings in North America, a three-fold increase from 2015.
If Passive House buildings move from a niche to a mainstream market, it is essential to maintain construction quality, noted the researchers. They recommended that building professionals pay close attention to building science issues alongside energy efficiency in order to promote occupant comfort and project durability (see The Hidden Science of High-Performance Building Assemblies).
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Published January 4, 2017