Passive House is totally achievable (and worth it) It’s not hard and it’s not that expensive, says experienced US firm

16 November 2021 by Jason Quinn

This is a stand-out article from San Francisco Bay area Passive House builders, One Sky Homes. These guys are the real deal, coming to Passive House over a decade ago already having considerable experience in zero-energy, green builds. They now have a great deal of expertise in designing and building single family Passive House homes in California … and their numbers are very encouraging.

This is a GREAT article to share with design professionals who aren’t yet convinced of the value or affordability of Passive House performance. It’s so positive and matter-of-fact and makes it clear that designing and building in this way is within the grasp of any building professional. Like everything it gets easier with practise!

Yes, the authors share hard numbers from real projects.

One Sky Homes calculates the cost premium for Passive House certification is very small, about 3.4%. There’s three reasons for this, and the first is they know what they are doing. There are businesses and professionals fast developing that same depth of expertise here in New Zealand. The other reasons are harder to replicate but there is progress: the comparison is against a higher specification home than the NZ Building Code dictates and premium building products are less expensive in the US.

My favourite part of the article is their “why”…

Superior Results

Our Passive Houses deliver much better quality than standard buildings. Here is a list of the basic features and characteristics that make them superior.

Indoor Air Quality

This is number one on my list since there is nothing more important than the health of the family living in the building. When you experience abundant, fresh filtered air 24/7 inside a home it will spoil you forever. We have clients with respiratory conditions who reported significantly better breathing and sleeping after just a few days living in their new Passive House

Thermal Comfort

With an air-tight, comprehensively insulated building envelope featuring triple pane windows there are no cold surfaces or drafts anywhere inside the building. Interior air and surface temperatures are constant and even throughout, including between multiple floors. This creates a distinct feeling of comfort for the occupants.

Acoustical Comfort

A PH building envelope effectively blocks exterior noise and creates a quiet interior that promotes a relaxed, serene indoor environment.

Energy Efficiency

Heating and cooling costs are dramatically reduced in Passive Houses. During the cooling season interior temperatures are not sensitive to exterior peak daytime temperatures. So it is easy to schedule cooling system operation for non-peak hours when electricity cost and carbon content are low, while not sacrificing comfort.


Passive Houses maintain relatively comfortable interior temperatures even in the absence of mechanical systems. Occupants can easily and safely survive extreme weather events and extended power outages even in the more extreme climate zones.


The superior envelope protects the building structure, particularly from moisture-related damage over the long run. Passive Houses can expect a 100 year plus average life cycle.”

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