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Passive House standard gaining influence in commercial sector

Codes and Standards

Passive House standard gaining influence in commercial sector

Some industry watchers predict it will become the base building code. 

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | December 1, 2016

Courtesy of calderoliver, Wikimedia Commons

The Passive House standard will become the base building code for commercial construction, and is having influence in the residential arena, according to some industry observers. 

Critics have questioned whether Passive House makes sense on certain commercial and institutional applications such as multi-family and college housing. If occupants are not committed to saving energy, they argue, the benefits of the standard could be negated. If residents leave lights on and windows open, for example, the premium to build to the standard would not pay off.

Nevertheless, proponents say building with continuity in the thermal barrier makes a building more likely to prove its value in the long run. Furthermore, up to 30% of greenhouse gas emissions could be eliminated is Passive House standards are implemented widely. 

One advocate said there is an average premium of about 5% in construction costs—a figure that is likely to decline. In a possible sign of things to come, Massachusetts has already included PHIUS+2015 standards as an alternative compliance path to prescriptive requirements in the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code. Other states are expected to follow suit.

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