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  • Passive house?

    We are considering building a new house next year and have been looking at the possibly building to passive standards or close to that. Was wondering if anyone out there has any first hand experience. Have spent sone time looking on the net and open to any sourses of info.
    Bob just past Ayr
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  • #2

    Re: Passive house?

    This should be an interesting thread.
    John
    If you learn from your mistakes, then I'm getting a fantastic education.

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    • #3

      Re: Passive house?

      Hi Bob, I used some passive principals in our design and have been and am still interested in modern/advanced building tech. I suggest you check out Endeavour Centre. http://endeavourcentre.org/
      Lots of good stuff to be found there.
      Donna,
      Self Imposed Queen of Design Opportunities

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      • #4

        Re: Passive house?

        My neighbour built a passive house, not sure how long ago, maybe 20 years. He's away on vacation right now but I could ask him a few things if you give me a list of questions.
        Steve The Drill Sergeant
        Check out MyShopNotes on YouTube.

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        • #5

          Re: Passive house?

          Thanks Donna Checked that sight out. There is lots of good info and contacts there. Need to spend more time there. How are you satisfied with what you did with the straw bales and what other passive principals did you use.

          Steve I would be interested to know if he has had an air pressure test on his house recently and how close it is to what it was when it was first built. Would he build another passive house and what he would do different and what he thought was the best value . That would be a start. Thanks
          Bob just past Ayr

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          • #6

            Re: Passive house?

            So our passive components began with site selection. Orientation of the house to the sun and prevailing winds. Magnetic or true north exposure and elevation calculations before layout.
            Larger glass on south and east face, small windows on North. Large overhangs for sun in the summer; sun never hits the window sills at summer solstice. Slab floor for mass for winter solar gain. Thick/well insulated walls and attic.

            Still quite pleased with performance. Pretty cheap to heat and cool. No air conditioning needed.

            iamtooler and nnieman like this.
            Donna,
            Self Imposed Queen of Design Opportunities

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            • #7

              Re: Passive house?

              I'll ask those questions but my guess is that he never had a pressure test because of his front door. :-)

              He built the eaves correctly for letting sun in and keeping it out, there is only 1 very small window on the north side, the south side is pretty much all windows with the upstairs covered by eaves and the downstairs he uses heavy curtains on the windows that are 16 feet high that extend to the basement/ground floor level.

              Steve The Drill Sergeant
              Check out MyShopNotes on YouTube.

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              • #8

                Re: Passive house?

                My house was custom build about 35 years ago, the architect incorporated some of these ideas and having lived here for the last 16 years I can attest to their importance. A huge bank of windows facing south is an energy saver and provides beautiful light all year round. There is a wrap around two foot wide shade that is an extension of the second story roof along the south side and partly on the east and west sides were the windows wrap around the corners. The level below that has a dramatically smaller shade but its effective in blocking unwanted direct sun at the right times. Roof design is important and window placement to maximize indirect light.

                If you can afford it, I would pay someone to advise you or your architect/designer. It’s a huge investment, these people are in the industry and know exactly what you are wanting.

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                • #9

                  Re: Passive house?

                  Thanks for the responce. I am planning on having someone do a sight and building assessment. One of our main problems is where we want to put the house the best views are to the northwest. Life is full of compromises.
                  Bob just past Ayr

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                  • #10

                    Re: Passive house?

                    Bob,

                    A friend embarked in a passive house project about 8 years ago. The performance of her house was monitored by scientists in Germany, as part of an international network. She was able to source a lot of the building material somewhat locally and the finished product is both very nice looking and energy efficient. Some (most?) of the air exchange equipment came from Germany - apparently they produce the most efficient systems.

                    A big challenge for her was to find knowledgeable contractors who understood - and were willing to deliver on - the level of detail required for achieving passive house standards.

                    In terms of the landscape views compromise you mentioned, I would be tempted to say that the « losses » in energy would likely be offset by the « gains » in enjoyment of the surrounding landscape. Just an opinion, not fact-based.

                    Let me know if you would like to know more about her experience.

                    Salut,

                    J.

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                    • #11

                      Re: Passive house?

                      Thanks Jacques. Finding contractors with the dedication to do the project properly may be a problem. That is partly why am doing this thread. Even if I don't find experienced people I may learn what to look for and what pitfalls to avoid.
                      We definitely will have windows that take in the view but how many we have to the south will depend on what the computer program and house design determine.
                      Bob just past Ayr

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                      • #12

                        Re: Passive house?

                        I gave it some thought four years ago. As a background I was an R-2000 builder in the 1990's and my plan four years ago was to build a home for myself that exceeded R-2000 and approached the Passive House standards but at the same time I didn't want to obsess over reaching an artificial standard that forced me to make choices that were expensive and exotic.

                        I ended up drawing a house that had high levels of insulation, that took advantage of some passive house details and took advantage of passive solar.

                        One of the construction methods I was going to take advantage of was to use a company in Maine run by an architect with lots of experience building Passive Haus who would detail and pre fab the walls for me then ship the to NB for assembly. I believe you can get much better quality control and efficiency building in a factory environment than assembling everything on site and this would have been a test bed for marketing this companies work in the maritime provinces.

                        The way things worked out we had to make a decision between building new on a decent lot or buying an existing house on an amazing lot with a sloped sunrise to sunset southern exposure and a 20 km view up and down the Saint John river valley ..... so we chose the latter and the house never got built.

                        IMHO the effort to push a house past that yardstick results in spending a fortune on details that have diminishing returns. I have the same opinion about technology in general ..... I just bought a "new" iphone 6 for a fraction for what the latest / greatest cost. iphone 6 is considered to be obsolete but to me it's a hell of a capable phone. Back in the 1990's R-2000 was expensive and esoteric compared to the existing stock. It was hard to sell the home buying public ..... you would get a lot of praise for being an R-2000 builder but no one valued them enough to pay the 10% extra to own one. Today every new home is built to mid 1990's R-200 standards.

                        I believe the same is true for the current state of the art ..... aim just below the Passive house standards. For example use Canadian made windows instead of certified German windows but use the passive house insulating details around the window to make the best use of materials and get the highest possible insulating values out of what you got. You get an excellent product without paying the extra $$$$$ to push over the passive house standard.

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                        • #13

                          Re: Passive house?

                          Thanks Dave. I am much of the same opinion and do not feel it necessary to meet the passive house standards at any cost just to get a paper that says this is a passive house. But after living in a150 year old drafty old house for 70 years we want the best we can afford because we won't get a second chance.
                          Bob just past Ayr

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                          • #14

                            Re: Passive house?

                            I used koltech tilt and turn windows on a renovation I did one of my places 2 years ago. I am very impressed. I wouldn't hesitate to use their product again https://www.kohltech.com/windows/tilt-turn/

                            I've never done business with these guys but they come highly referred from energy efficient builders I converse with in the USA and they were very helpful to me when I was designing my house spending a lot of time on the phone and sending me samples etc. https://foursevenfive.ca/ My plan was to use their VB and tapes.

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                            • #15

                              Re: Passive house?

                              One of my friends, and someone known to many in the Ottawa area where he used to live prior to movingi to Kingston, is Chris vanderZwan. Chris has built at least one home to the passivhaus standard; his website is here. I'd highly recommend you contact him.

                              I also couldn't help notice the comments by others in this thread, suggesting that it may be more cost effective and realistic to aim for something lower than passivhaus. I feel that because every individual's situation is unique (financial, our life expectancy and subsequent return on investment, and aesthetical demand), the decision as to where to place the bar has to be done on a case-by-case basis. For my wife and I, we went with a full ICF home with radiant floor in the basement, Canadian-made windows (and chose the ones just a step below the highest standard they were producing at the time), R70 insulation in the attic, the largest HRV produced by Lifebreath at the time, a forced-air gas furnace which also facilitates air conditioning in the summer, and which is teamed to a heat pump/air condititioner condensor unit. Our furnace comes on only a few times a day in the most extreme times of the winter, as does the air conditioner in the summertime. Our electrical and gas bills are much less than half of that of our neighbours, most of whose homes are in the 1,600 sq ft range; ours is 2,100 sq ft with 10' ceilings in the great room that vault up to 15'. The basement is comfortable, year round, and never has any hint of moisture or dampness. Will we ever get back the investment we made now 7 years ago? Don't know and don't care. We're as snug as bugs in a run! That's our story.

                              All the best,

                              Marty

                              Secretary of Kingston Wood Artisans Inc. https://kwoodartca.wordpress.com/

                              Master Mistake Fixer (because I've made them all... at least once)

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