What is the Passive approach?
Passive means PRO-actively designing structures that use less energy, last beyond a lifetime, and offer a sanctuary for the inhabitants. Duncan Wisniewski Architecture is committed to learning, teaching, and sharing passive design. Passive is a mindset placing value on the ecosystems and communities we inhabit at home and at work. Passive House is a performance building standard that sets a pretty high bar for low energy consumption. Simply put- we believe in designing good places that prosper, and we have adopted a design strategy focusing on a robust building envelope (passive) to minimize mechanical systems (active).
How do you implement the Passive approach?
Good architecture is an iterative process; working collaboratively with our clients and partners we seek to build the best building a budget can buy. Each completed building informs the next design; we seek to be a learning organization.
- We begin by TESTing our design with an energy model. We revise and recalculate as we go to ensure that long term energy costs and up front capital costs are optimized.
- Once the model is to a happy place, we IMPLEMENT. This is the nitty gritty of assembling a construction set and ensuring it is executed during construction.
- We craft buildings with durable high performance components: foundations, walls, windows, doors and roofs, resulting in a downsize of mechanical equipment.
- After construction is complete, we MONITOR the energy consumed to ensure our assumptions were correct.
What are some design strategies?
- Highly insulated walls with continuous insulation.
- Continuous air sealing envelope, with careful attention paid to all penetrations.
- Eliminate thermal bridges; building components are always separated from the exterior with insulation.
- High performance glazing; new glazing products allow for very efficient windows at a reasonable price.
- Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery; ensuring heat created within the building is recaptured as fresh air is brought in.
- Small mechanical heating system; with careful design of the building, a smaller mechanical system can be used, saving money up front and over the long term through lower energy costs and replacement costs
What about Certifications?
Michael and Arthur are both Certified Passive House Consultants (CPHC) - their knowledge is integral to our overall energy design philosophy. We wish that all projects could be Passive House Certified, but we realize that is difficult. Common hurdles in achieving a certification include: existing conditions, site restraints, zoning, and financing. We believe in implementing the PASSIVE APPROACH as a design strategy. This strategy parallels values in other green building standards including the 2030 Challenge and Enterprise Green Communities; two others which we strive to meet.
Are there any examples of this approach?
DWA’s design for Elm Place will be the first multi-family certified Passive House project in Vermont. We learned a lot on this project. A tight project budget meant consistently working to make optimal decisions on resource allocation. We plan to publish more information about this building once completed in 2017.