BECAUSE CLIMATE CHANGE IS A MORAL AND ETHICAL ISSUE, WE CARE DEEPLY ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY. Buildings in the US consume 70% of the electricity produced and generate 39% of the carbon dioxide emissions. This greenhouse gas is a major contributor to global warming.The typical building is incredibly wasteful of energy. This need not be the case.
AS CERTIFIED PASSIVE HOUSE DESIGNERS, WE ARE UNIQUELY TRAINED to create sustainable buildings that will help to reduce--and ultimately reverse--the effects of climate change. Buildings designed to the Passive House standard use remarkably little energy, cost very little to heat and cool, and have minimal negative impact on the environment. Additionally, sustainably designed buildings offer the following important benefits to their users:
"What's the use of a fine house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"
– Henry David Thoreau
SUPERIOR AIR QUALITY. In order to achieve this goal, it is necessary to prevent water infiltration and minimize thermal bridges -- poorly insulated areas at the building perimeter. Doing this will inhibit the growth of mold, a known cause of a variety of health problems. Purposeful ventilation is also essential, especially in today's tightly constructed homes. Heat or energy recovery ventilators (HRVs or ERVs) introduce fresh air and remove stale air continuously, with minimal loss of a building's heat or "coolth." Many of our clients are surprised to learn that conventional HVAC systems provide no fresh air; they merely recirculate stale interior air.
OCCUPANT COMFORT. Occupants of conventionally constructed buildings often complain of draftiness, cold floors and walls, and difficulty in maintaining comfortable temperatures. These problems can be avoided with thoughtful design and construction. The building envelope should be thermal bridge-free: the interior spaces are thermally isolated from the exterior. This can be achieved via the correct detailing of wall, roof and floor assemblies and the use of "thermally-broken" windows and other components.
LOWER TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP. Well-designed buildings will not only last far longer that conventional ones. They will be comparatively trouble-free and inexpensive to maintain as well. Aside from fire, a building's greatest enemy is water. If careful steps are not taken during the design stage to address water, the damage will begin before construction is even complete. Without proper flashing, roof and gutter design, and foundation waterproofing and drainage, water can wreak havoc on a building. Natural materials such as wood siding are especially vulnerable if not installed in a way that enables them to dry out quickly and easily after getting wet. Some inexperienced designers and builders wrongly assume that modern, "rot-proof" materials will protect a building on their own and render smart detailing unnecessary. Nothing could be further from the truth. Such materials may actually exacerbate problems by concealing rot in underlying materials, thereby delaying or preventing necessary repairs. The cost of repairing damage caused by poor detailing will far exceed the cost of doing it right the first time. An ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure!