How It Works

Passive House design takes the guesswork out of zero carbon building. 

How It Works

The genius of the Passive House methodology is that it recognizes that the building itself–its skeleton and skin–is technology. As with other clean tech, we can therefore combine computer modeling, applied physics, and human innovation to maximize performance and minimize cost.  Our goal is the optimal supply of light, heat, and air for building occupants.


Generous high performance windows capture natural daylight and solar heat gain, while shading devices shield from overheating.


Continuous insulation and thermal bridge-free assemblies keep Passive House buildings warm in winter and cool in summer. 


A robust air barrier eliminates leaks through walls, foundation, and roof, while heat recovery ventilation (HRV) functions as the respiratory system of the building, providing a constant supply of filtered fresh air to building occupants.

Inside the HRV a passive heat exchanger transfers the thermal energy of exhaust air into incoming fresh air. It’s like keeping the windows open in the middle of winter without losing heat (or, in summer, without gaining heat.)

Because the two streams of air–exhaust and fresh–never actually mix, the balanced ventilation of the HRV expels oxygen-depleted air while bringing in oxygen-rich air.

The filters inside the HRV clean the incoming air, making the quality of indoor air superior to that of outside air, especially in polluted urban areas or during wildfires or periods of heavy pollen.

In a traditional house, you have a lot of air movement and a lot of different temperatures depending on where you are. In a passive house, you never feel a draft.”

Brandon Nicholson: NK Architects, quoted by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Passive House

Passive House design optimizes the light, air, and thermal energy of a building, reducing building energy use by as much as 75%. It’s the world’s most rigorous building energy standard, charting a straight path to zero carbon building. The result is a better way to design and build, with revolutionary performance and predictable results.

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