(Updated Nov 4 2009)

There was a bit of a stir lately within the building science online communities when a well-known and respected building scientist published a review of the Passive House standard.

John Straube published a review of the Passive House standard on BuildingScience.com compared to standards and practices applicable in the U.S. and Canada, available at http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/insights/bsi-025-the-passivhaus-passive-house-standard. In it Straube takes a close look at Passive House from a North American context, comparing it to other low-energy building systems for cold climates.

Katrin Klingenberg of Passive House Institute U.S. posted a lengthy response to John Straube’s article at http://www.passivehouse.us/bulletinBoard/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=208, correcting a few misunderstandings.

On GreenBuildingAdvisor.com, there is an initial discussion and reaction to Straube’s article at http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/community/forum/passive-house/14647/very-recent-passivhaus-article. Later, Marc Rosenbaum and David White wrote a point-by-point clarification of why the Passive House Standard sets a worthy goal for North America at http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/green-building-blog/defense-passive-house-standard

Also on GreenBuildingAdvisor.com, Martin Holladay and John Straube discuss the lowest cost approach, which differs from Passive House. The lowest cost approach improves the building envelope until the incremental cost of further improvements would be more expensive than photovoltaic technology. Passive House on the other hand looks at absolute energy consumption of the building envelope, so in a sense it is more “future-proof” than a house with more technology, and is likely the best choice for a future with constrained energy supply. Plus, it is much less expensive to add PV later than to retrofit additional underslab insulation. See http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/can-foam-insulation-be-too-thick

And finally, John Straube clarified his position in the whole discussion at http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/insights/bsi-026-passivhaus-becomes-active-further-commentary-on-passivhaus.

If you are interested in helping bring Passive House to Canada, visit http://www.passivebuilding.ca and join the email discussion list.