When we discuss the Internet as a tool in this industry, it often refers to the Internet of Things. A new resource center is aiming to change that with online education aimed at developers striving to meet the passive building standard.
What exactly does this standard entail? The PHIUS+2015 Passive Building Standard was released by Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) in 2015. It’s the only passive building standard on the market based upon climate-specific comfort and performance criteria.
Buildings designed and constructed to this standard perform 60 to 85 percent better on an energy consumption basis when compared to a code compliant building.
Additionally, this standard—which requires tight envelope building, high-performance windows and a focus on ventilation systems and indoor air quality—can help builders achieve zero net energy.
In fact, the US Department of Energy currently ranks PHIUS+ project certification as the highest attainable level of energy efficiency one can achieve.
“The standard has been optimized to be the most efficient building you can build,” says Meredith Marsh, communications manager for PHIUS. “With this, we’ve seen a very large rise in the number of multifamily projects that are pursuing passive certification.”
A Resource Center for Developers
Through this rise of passive multifamily projects, PHIUS has certified more than one million square-feet of space and 1,200 units to date nationwide.
It has recognized the need for a resource center for developers trying to get these types of projects underway and was awarded a grant by the McArthur Foundation to put it together. Now, multifamily developers can make their passive pursuits a reality.
PHIUS could have designed this as a simple guidebook to be distributed but decided against this in favor of an interactive website, which launched last week. “This way, it can really stay up to date while featuring webinars, videos, links and resources on a continuously updated basis,” says Marsh.
Marsh notes that the multifamily builder spectrum differs from passive building’s typical audience of architects, engineers and single-family builders. “It’s a different language and a different set of needs,” she says.
In addressing these unique needs, the PHIUS Multifamily Resource Center presents its most interesting element—a case studies section. Here, developers can explore a consistently updated source of real world examples, lessons learned and valuable feedback from passive project teams.
It helps developers hop on board with the passive standard without being overwhelmed. “People want to be early adopters, not first adopters necessarily, because with that you’re going into uncharted waters,” says Marsh.
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Professional Certification for the Future
Through the resource center and passive standard, PHIUS aims to certify passive developments with a unique system—the only one that requires third party quality assurance and control (QA/QC).
“Our certification team is very hands on and communicative, because every project is different,” says Marsh.
Through certification, education and standards, developers can begin to build towards a future that is already evolving fast towards passive practice. Marsh specifies that the codes are already beginning to catch up, and by 2020 and beyond, passive building standards will likely be the norm.
“You’re building for future codes versus building something that is obsolete as soon as the paint dries,” says Marsh.
With the Multifamily Resource Center, PHIUS is taking a strong step forward in educating developers who are actively moving toward a promising and passive future.
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