Building Back Better after the Marshall Fire

Building Back Better after the Marshall Fire

The original Passive House idea sprang from finding solutions for low-energy housing, so that is the most obvious benefit. Passive House buildings allow for heating and cooling related energy savings of up to 90% compared with typical building stock and over 75% compared with average new builds.

Andrew Michler stands outside Colorado’s first certified passive home. 

There is also the comfort factor. Many home owners who build to Passive House standards report feeling comfortable temperatures in both winter and summer. 

Building to Passive House standards typically costs more upfront than their conventional counterparts. On average, someone building a Passive House in Europe might expect to spend anywhere from 3 to 8% more, and this cost differential is likely more where Passive House materials are not easily available. However, it really depends on where someone tries to build a home. Many point to the quick energy savings to make up for those differences. A home built to Passive House standards also has a more advanced ventilation system which constantly brings in outside air, pushes it through filtration and then pushes out the old air. That filtration system along with an air-tight design also often lessens outside noise in the home. 

“[We] make the buildings as airtight as we can, protecting occupants from outdoor poor air or even protecting from things like moisture and rot. The Passive House was designed to both reduce energy, but to also improve the comfort of the occupants,” said Andrew Michler, the owner of Colorado’s first certified passive house. “Lots of visitors come and talk to me about how quiet this space is … there’s always fresh air coming to the house, that that it’s more comfortable to breathe.” 

On top of these benefits, there is also an additional fire protection aspect. Homes built to meet Passive House standards are often designed with more simplistic structural design to help with energy savings, this also makes it harder to burn given more flat surface area and fewer nooks and crannies for hot gasses to build up or embers to ignite. The materials used in a Passive House design also are more fire-resistant, including the siding and the often pre-fabricated walls. Finally, the air-tight aspect also protects the home by controlling smoke penetration as well as potential embers.

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