Passive House on the Prairie: Passive Houses in Five Regions of the United States

First name: 
Last name: 
de Jocas
Class Year: 
Naomi Darling
Essay Abstract: 
Since the first certification of a Passive House built in the United States in 2003, the Passive House Institute U.S. has pushed for the widespread adoption of the standard across the country. This enthusiasm for dissemination has resulted in Passive Houses being built in nearly every climate type found in the United States, not just in those areas which are climatically similar to Central Europe, where the standard originated. The existing literature on Passive House in the U.S. has largely failed to address the question of homeowner comfort in these diverse regions. This essay presents interviews I conducted with the owners of five Passive Houses, located in California, Utah, Illinois, North Carolina, and Maine, for the purpose of assessing their comfort levels in the homes. Based on the results of my interviews, I make recommendations on which areas of the United States the Passive House standard is best suited for, namely inversion and frontal regions. In subsidence and instability climates, I argue that energy efficiency is best achieved through the application of traditional vernacular architecture strategies.