Honest and fair net zero buildings
Sometimes you need to explain complicated technical topics in a very simple way. Like how you would speak to your 95 year old Italian grandmother, Rita, who grew up before TV was a thing. How the hell do you explain Passive House. Better make it simple or she will ask again in about 10 minutes.
A Certified Passive House Classic is one where we can predict comfort and energy use before we build it; and we design the building so that to make it any more efficient just doesn’t make sense. So we end up with homes where it feels like a warm spring day inside all the time; with heating costs less than running an old beer fridge like Gramps had in the shed. No renewable power generation required.
Now once you have this super comfortable home that almost heats itself you can add on renewable energy, solar electric panels (PV) or join a windmill group and if you have enough
generation you can home can be a Certified Passive House Plus. The amount of power you need to generate to be a Certified Passive House Plus (PH+) is ‘honest net zero’ about what you would use for everything in the building over the year, including storage losses, but calculated so it is fair to multilevel apartments.
Certified Passive House Plus -> Think honest net zero for the building calculated so it’s fair to apartment folks as well.
Passive House Premium is even more fair; as in fair to all of society. A Certified Passive House Premium requires sufficient renewable power generation to be honest net zero for all the energy uses of the occupant. That would be all of the energy used by the occupants of the building throughout their daily life. So this obviously includes everything in the building over the year, including storage losses, their electric car, as well as societies usage of energy for everything else as well. It’s renewable energy generation to a level set to make a fully renewable energy grid work for everyone.
Certified Passive House Premium -> Think honest net zero for the occupant calculated so it’s fair to apartment folks as well.
What did I mean by storage losses? Well one of the not so good things about solar PV panels is that they only generate power when the sun is shining and more in the summer than the
winter. When everyone (hopefully?) goes to solar PV panels than there will be too much power in the summer and not enough in the winter. Technically we already know how to store power
from summer to winter but it is not 100% efficient so we will need to generate enough ‘extra’ renewable power to cover the losses. Honest net zero covers these losses.
Graphic of the Passive House classes is from the Passive House Institute in Darmstadt.