Ben Rahn/A Frame via GreenSource
Cliff Kuang does a terrific job covering design at Fast Company, but may be leading his readers a bit astray with his post What Exactly Is a "Passive House" and Why Should I Care? He covers a stunning house by Paul Raff in Toronto, and then picks up on the New York Times article on Passive Houses, saying
"Passive" housing isn't a designation you can slap on like LEED certification. It's a design philosophy.
But it IS a designation, like LEED, as well as a philosophy, and the house by Paul Raff has many passive design features, but is not a passive house.
The house has a lot of features that take advantage of passive solar design and look spectacular at the same time, like this variation on a trombe wall that absorbs heat through the south facing windows. This and other features led Greensource to consider it one of the Best Green Houses and for Preston to show it on Jetson Green. (TreeHugger keeps away from big single family houses these days, but shouldn't have passed on this one)
Passive Houses in fact do have a designation very much like LEED, established by the PassivHaus Institute - they have to come up to a certain standard, and here it is, compared to other standards:
and in words, from the UK:
Perhaps the confusion stems from the North American fear of things foreign; when the concept came to America they named it the Passive House Institute US , whereas in Britain they call it PassivHausUK,
which I think clearly sets itself as being distinct from the idea of passive design. Perhaps we should all be doing that.