With the help of a number of colleagues involved in Passivehouse I've been working on how this standard could be amended for use in New England and similar climates in a way that would remedy the most significant deficiencies, which I see as:
- the PH std has the same annual heating and cooling demand (AHD, ACD) limits anywhere, which leads to extreme solutions in severe climates.
- the resultant focus on meeting the AHD limit in the more severe climates diverts focus from the overall primary energy consumption of the building and its occupants.
- the PH std limits are set per unit of usable floor area (TFA), which creates the perverse incentive that larger houses meet the std more easily. Perhaps more fundamentally, the PH std, as most if not all other standards, sidesteps the core issue of resource use equity.
- the PH std counts solar input from direct gain solar heating and solar thermal hot water but does not count solar electricity to be used in meeting the std.
- the PH std does not require performance reporting beyond the 0.6 ACH50 blower door test.
After some drafts, I'm ready finally to publish this proposed amendment and see where it goes. Other countries and regions of countries have modified the Passivehouse standard to suit their goals. This proposal aspires to change how people (especially New Englanders) think about minimizing the environmental impact of houses and people. Minimizing primary energy consumption and basing the standard on occupancy rather than on area will evolve an already robust standard to a more effective and more ethical level.
It is not expected that the organizations maintaining the existing standard will welcome or adopt the key aspects of this standard. If Passive House New England, which is not aligned with either PHI or PHIUS, sees value in this proposal, it may begin to develop its own certification process. At the least, the aspiration is that this proposal may guide a well-focused and thoughtful exploration of how to live ethically and effectively on this planet for practitioners and clients, rather than aiming blindly at what are ultimately arbitrary numbers despite our best intentions.
I'm interested to hear what people think! See the attached PDF for the proposal. Download PH NE amendment V3