What Exactly Is a Passive House?

We’ve been reading more and more about “green homes,” but, surprisingly, very few of our clients are asking for them.

A type of green construction referred to as “Passive Houses,” is a big trend in Europe. During the last 20 years, tens of thousands such homes have been built there, establishing an impressive and dependable performance record.

The Passive House, the most eco-friendly home option around, can cut the energy used for heating a home by an impressive 90 percent.

So what is a Passive House? What energy standards must it meet? And, how do you find such a home in Wilmington, NC?

“Passive” describes the way the house relies on natural resources, saving energy without resorting to “active” technologies, including photovoltaics or solar thermal hot water systems.

For a home to be certified as Passive, it must include these critical design principles:

    • Super Insulated: insulation tuned to the local climate level to assure a stable, draft-free interior.


    • Thermal Bridge Free Construction: detailing that assures energy isn’t transferred through building materials.


    • Air-Tight Construction: rigorous attention to sealing all areas where air can leak.


    • Net-Gain High Performance Windows: triple glazed, tilt-turn windows tuned to gain more energy than they lose.


    • Balanced Ventilation: system recovers heat from steady balanced air flow, “the house literally breathes.”


  • Lighting and Plug Loads: CFL and LED light bulbs in nearly all fixtures and the most efficient Energy Star appliances.

Generally, building a Passive House costs about five to ten percent more than typical construction, however, savings start immediately. Your energy usage –and subsequent bills—will be minimal, potentially saving you thousands of dollars a year.

While few builders construct Passive Houses in Southeastern North Carolina, your Exclusive Buyers’ Agent can help you identify and select a builder who will work with you to build (or remodel) an energy efficient home. Call us at (910) 202-4813 to discuss your ideas with one of our brokers.

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