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Yikes... A few misconceptions worth noting: Not all Passivhaeuser rely on solar gain for heating – in cooling-dominated climates battling internal heat gains is hard enough, solar gain just increases cooling demand. Additionally, not all Passivhaeuser in heating-dominated climates are able to utilize passive solar gains, and have to rely on minimizing losses (usu. better glazing/more insulation) and maximizing process energy (from internal sources) and supplemental heating. Not all Passivhaeuser rely on high thermal mass – in fact many don’t have much mass at all, unless you count 5/8” GWB to be high thermal mass. There are some PH designers who do utilize high thermal mass, but those are few and far between. You can build a Passivhaus with products here in the US, although the window manufacturers are light years behind Europe and don’t seem to be in a hurry to catch up. The embodied energy and operational energy of a Passivhaus is far below that of the embodied energy + operational energy of a code minimum house (and even most LEED projects). This is because operational energy of a typical building is about a factor 10 greater than embodied energy (and this is before operational energy source factors are calculated). While there are several Passivhaeuser surrounded w/ petroleum-based foams, it’s hardly an oxymoron. To me, the biggest ‘green’ irony is spending hundreds of hours to reduce the embodied energy of projects by maybe 15-20%, while doing very little to fix the larger issue - curbing operational energy and their subsequent CO2 emissions. Or utilizing HCFC-based spray SPF and calling it ‘green’. Lastly, there are oodles of Passivhaeuser built of straw, rammed earth, cross laminated timber, clay brick, and wood stud with cellulose – all having significantly lower embodied energy than one with petroleum-based insulation. All of these projects significantly outperform ~95% of LEED projects.
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Jun 2, 2011