Like trance music and white asparagus, Germany's Passivhaus building standard is slowly but surely catching on in the U.S. Filmmaker Charlie Hoxie tracks its progress in the short doc, 'Passive Passion.'
The Passivhaus movement (known as Passive House here in the U.S. where it’s governed by the Illinois-based Passive House Institute US, an organization that experienced some infighting-related growing pains last summer) is not an uncommon topic on this here blog. Still, some of you may continue to be perplexed as to what exactly this super-efficient, high-performance building standard exported from Darmstadt, Germany actually entails (and no, it does not entail furnaces).
For starters, a home built to exacting Passive House standards draws up to 90 percent less energy for heating and cooling purposes than standard homes. This is achieved primarily through airtightness, extra insulation, natural daylighting, and heat-recovery ventilation systems. Or, as I noted in a 2010 post about the movement, passive houses are built tight, thick, and bright. One of my favorite green home building projects from this past year wasn't an "official" certified Passive House per se but was built with PH principles in mind: Empowerhouse, an entrant in the 2011 Solar Decathlon.
“Passive Passion,” a documentary from Brooklyn-based filmmaker Charlie Hoxie is an insightful primer on this game-changing building standard that is looking to have a bang-up year in 2012. While exploring PH's German origins, Hoxie also focuses on how the standard is slowly but steadily making headway stateside particularly in New York City (that's LoadingDock5's Passive House 1 in Brooklyn, pictured in the above screenshot).
Reads the film's synopsis: "This introduction to a unique and promising style of building examines the extent to which European builders have taken the concept, and the vast ground American Passive House enthusiasts have to make up. It remains something of a fringe movement in the United States, but can the Passive House method change the way we build?"
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