Which Green Building Certification is right for you?

This past week a class action lawsuit was filed against the United States Green Building Council (USGBC)  for fraud, claiming the USGBC certifications of buildings does not make buildings save any more energy. (article here)  I will leave the debate about whether the case is valid or not to others, but the one thing that I focused on was the claim that the USGBC has overshadowed other green building certifications.  By marketing so heavily in the United States it has decreased the number of green building certifications.  I’m not sure if it deserves a lawsuit, but it is a good point.  I would like to post some summaries on other Green Building Certifications, starting with Passivhaus. 


This is an example of a layout for home using Passive Design

The PassivHaus, sometimes referred to as Passive House, comes from the German energy efficiency standard Passivhaus.  The standard focuses on reducing the building’s energy consumption through extra insulation and airtight construction.  To be a certified Passivhaus the building must use less than 15kwh/(m2a).  I am not an engineer so I can’t tell you exactly what 15kwh/(m2a) is, but it is not much energy at all.  For a house to comfortable in both the winter and the summer and use such little energy requires super insulation, a very tightly sealed building, and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery. 

The Mechanical system above uses heat recovery to pre-heat incoming air during the winter and pre cool incoming air in the summer, reducing the work the system needs to perform to heat and cool the air.  This combined with a super insulated and extremely tight building allows for very little energy usage. 

Passive House has an institute in the United States that offers support and training.  http://www.passivehouse.us/passiveHouse/PHIUSHome.html.  This is a certification that I would love to get one day, but currently so few people know about this type of building, I don’t know if the investment of my time and money would be worth it.  Please let me know if anyone has completed the course and if it is worth it or not. 

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