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Today's tip is about a green rating system called Passive House.
Passive House, despite its name, can be used on any commercial building. It endeavors to help building owners save as much as 90 percent on energy compared to a standard building. Passive House is being used more frequently in Europe these days (there are more than 15,000 Passive House buildings there), but is starting to catch on here in the US as energy prices become higher and more volatile.
The main characteristic of a Passive House building is that it is "passively" heated and cooled. In other words, it doesn't use "active" technology like photovoltaic panels, to provide electricity or for heating and cooling. Passive House buildings are extremely well insulated and usually air tight, are heated from passive solar gain and internal sources, and require well-designed and modeled ventilation systems for fresh air and to ensure that moisture is removed. Passive House structures usually also require high-performance doors and windows.
Recently, a 96-year-old office building in Portland, Oregon, became the first US office building to be renovated to Passive House standards. The renovation is expected to result in an 80 percent energy savings for the building.
For more information on the rating system, visit the Passive House Institute US at www.passivehouse.us.