EpiPHany Corner | Call to Action — Be the Difference

The simple definition of epiphany is “an illuminating discovery or realization”. The purpose of this Month’s EpiPHany is to enlighten our many newsletter subscribers about logical actions you can take to accelerate the awareness and application of Passive House (PH) protocols within your own communities. In the graphic below, the light coming from the single bulb in the center is energizing the luminescence in the surrounding bulbs. When you take…


EpiPHany Corner | PH Value Proposition: EnerPHit for Existing Buildings

Passive House California advocates for the awareness, understanding, and application of the Passive House standard.  Most of the time, the focus is on the design and construction of new Passive House buildings (single-family, multifamily, and a wide range of other types). The high-performance of Passive House provides significant benefits in terms of energy efficiency, comfort, indoor air quality, durability, and resilience. Clearly, a smart and responsible choice for owners, occupants,…


EpiPHany Corner | For Persuasive Communication, F-F-B is Good, but N-F-F-B is Better

If you are involved in advocating for environmentally responsible standards, strategies, products, or projects, this simple tactic can dramatically increase your success. First, some well-established definitions: A “Feature” is a characteristic of something (standard, strategy, product, service, or project) that is easily understood or demonstrated. A “Function” is how the feature works to provide one or more benefits. A “Benefit” is something positive that is gained as a result of…


EpiPHany Corner | How is Integrated Design analogous to a winning football team?

We are experiencing increased interest and awareness of the possible integration of Passive House strategies in the affordable multifamily industry to increase energy efficiency, healthy indoor air quality, and resilience. Affordable multifamily developers have consistently been early adopters of environmentally responsible practices in the design and construction of their projects. Most recently, in their quest to reduce greenhouse gasses (GHGs) and provide the best possible living conditions for occupants, they…


EpiPHany Corner | Achieving Your Vision for a High-Performance Home

The following is true for the design and construction of any home or building, but particularly important when your vision includes high-performance: The elements of high-performance include energy efficiency, indoor air quality, comfort, durability, and — resilience to extreme heat/cold, wildfires/smoke, and power outages. Historically, the process of building a custom home on a particular parcel has been a bit like a relay race. The potential homeowner would have an…


EpiPHany Corner | Three Tips for Achieving High-Performance Buildings

Today, “High-Performance” generally refers to: Maximum Energy Efficiency; Physical and Emotional Comfort; Healthy IAQ; Resilience; and ultimately, Zero Net Energy; Zero Net Carbon. The Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) and the recently introduced PH Ribbon (integrates embodied carbon) make it possible to deliver the owner’s targets for high-performance. The three-legged stool of Early planning, Envelope first, and Aspirational goals are critical to achieving desired performance on time and on budget with…


EpiPHany Corner | The Natural Order of Decarbonization

First, we acknowledge the extremely important success of the Decarbonization Coalition (buildingdecarb.org) in their efforts to drive the electrification of the built environment. As a result of their work, over 50 California cities/counties have committed to phase out natural gas in new buildings. The Decarbonization Coalition’s traction with municipalities and other entities is advancing the conversation to include all four of the imperative factors that will enable the decarbonization of…


EpiPHany Corner | The Natural Order of Sustainability

When you are in the process of designing and constructing a new building, or planning for the remodeling or retrofitting an existing building, the Natural Order of Sustainability is: Passive First - Active Second - and Renewables Last. A “passive” solution delivers desired performance naturally, as a function of design, and continues to deliver that performance over time with little or no intervention other than basic maintenance. When you design…


EpiPHany Corner | A High-Performance Enclosure: The #1 Priority for Resiliency

Resiliency is the “ability to withstand and recover from difficult life events.” In the case of buildings, difficult life events include extreme heat or cold, wildfires, airborne pollutants (including smoke), and power outages. The #1 priority for achieving resiliency is a high-performance enclosure (envelope) The #1 priority for attaining a high-performance enclosure is air sealing Employing Passive House protocols is the #1 way of delivering an airtight enclosure The high-performing…


EpiPHany Corner | The Logic of The MacLeamy Curve

In 2004, Patrick MacLeamy (CEO of HOK Architects) introduced the “Effort Curve”, now known as the MacLeamy Curve, to leverage technology and collaboration early in the design process for new buildings. Today, application of MacLeamy’s logic is critically important in achieving Passive House performance. A simple analogy: Imagine you were arranging a family vacation that included visits to several countries — and you wanted to arrive back home on time…


EpiPHany Corner | Position High-Performance as the Baseline

You cannot discern how a building will perform by appearance alone. The home pictured below must be at least code compliant in order to pass inspection, but it might be a high-performing building in terms of energy efficiency, comfort, indoor air quality, durability, and environmental responsibility. It may even qualify as a Passive House. You need additional evidence from modeling and testing to make a determination. The key word here…


EpiPHany Corner | How is a Passive House building like a glider?

The wings of an airplane are designed to provide lift when pushed or pulled through the air at sufficient speed. The wing itself can be considered a “passive” element because it is the design and shape that enables it to produce lift whenever the airplane moves through the air. As long as the airplane maintains sufficient airspeed the wing will deliver lift and the aircraft will fly. When an airplane…