Passive House movement gets noticed by the New York Times

NK Architects Park Passive House gets the New York Times Home and Garden treatment in what appears to me as a fairly thorough article. Sandy Keenan describes the benefits of Passivhaus design:

The air inside the house feels so fresh, you can almost taste its sweetness.

On paper, at least, the Ritchies’ home sounds too good to be true: an environmentally responsible house without traditional heating and air-conditioning systems that will be an airy 70 to 74 degrees on the coldest day of winter and the hottest day of summer, but use only a fraction of the energy consumed by a typical house.

It's an excellent introduction to the basic concepts of Passivhaus, without getting into the technicalities. (Don't understand Passivhaus? Here's the best explanation ever, if mildly NSFW)

The author apparently errs in calling Seattle "one of the most humid cities in the country" and has to endure about 47 comments calling her an idiot, but this is why we don't read the comments. She rounds up most of the usual suspects including critics like Martin Holladay and Joseph Lstiburek, and alludes to the disastrous schism in the American Passivhaus movement, noting, "for those who are hoping to push the industry forward in this country, the split is disheartening."

© What's Passive about that? Passivhaus Institute

About the only point that I might question is the statement:

The very idea of a passive house is counterintuitive. And when just explaining what it is remains so difficult, proselytizing is that much harder... The basic idea is that these houses are so airtight that warm air won’t leak out in the winter, and cool air won’t leak out in the summer. Windows are three panes thick, and there is far more insulation than you would find in a standard American home.

There is nothing counterintuitive at all. That's what is so wonderful about Passivhaus; anyone can understand the basic concept of piling on the insulation, sealing up tight, careful siting and good ventilation. It just makes sense.

Read it all in the New York Times

Tags: Newspapers | New York City | passive house

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