How is a Firefighter’s “Protective Gear” like a Passive House?

PHCA Monthly epiPHany

How is a Firefighter’s “Protective Gear” like a Passive House?

We are all aware of wildfires here in California — and grateful for the thousands of Firefighters who risked their lives battling those wildfires. They put themselves in environments where they need to be protected from the extreme heat, winds, and unhealthy air full of smoke and other pollutants. Fortunately, they are kept safe “inside” of their personal equipment (PPE). That equipment provides an airtight envelope that protects them from the superheated and dangerous outside air. That protective envelope is also well insulated so that the heat from outside is not conducted to the inside. Finally, they are provided with continuous fresh air to breathe while they fight the fire.

In a similar way, building occupants and families can be protected from extreme outside temperatures and unhealthy air by the “PPE” (personal protective envelope) when inside buildings constructed using Passive House protocols. The same three essential elements are found in Passive House buildings. The extremely airtight envelope almost eliminates the intrusion of unwanted airborne pollutants and allergens — climate specific insulation keeps the summer heat on the outside (and the warmth inside in winter) — and filtered fresh air is provided continuously with balanced ventilation. 

We are thankful for the firefighters who protect us from fires, and thankful for Passive House buildings that provide a safe and comfortable inside when it is too hot, cold, windy, or unhealthy outside.

Jay Gentry