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SPS-1 04-05-2010 08:34 PM

I was wondering about the European approach to enegy efficiency ( normally more advanced than in North America ), and with a little bit of reasearch I found this:

I thought readers of this forum would be interested. Seems to be well standardized. I wonder what it would take to get houses built over here with that kind of efficiency ? I doubt I could even find a contracter that would know where to start.

Bob Mariani 04-05-2010 10:57 PM

there are several of these already built here. But the cost is high. Example: an american window costs about 5.50 sq ft. The windows in these houses cost $300 sq ft. Costs for building this way is about 3 times. payback is more than 100 years.

moorewarner 04-05-2010 11:54 PM


Originally Posted by Bob Mariani (Post 424558)
there are several of these already built here. But the cost is high. Example: an american window costs about 5.50 sq ft. The windows in these houses cost $300 sq ft. Costs for building this way is about 3 times. payback is more than 100 years.


Where are you getting these numbers?

The increased expenses over traditional building that I have read are anywhere from 5%-50%, with the most common running about 20% to be conservative.

You are saying 300%? :eek: Can you elaborate on where that number is coming from?

As an example the project in Urbana,

"How does the cost of Passivhaus construction compare to that of standard building? Based on the construction of the Fairview House in Urbana, some baseline numbers have been confirmed. To achieve Passivhaus standard requires an additional upfront investment of approximately 5-10% of the construction budget, as compared to regular standard code-compliant construction. Of course this number can vary depending on the building. The real cost advantage occurs over the lifetime of the structure as operating costs are reduced leading to huge return on investment over the life of the building."

Here is a remodel in California,

"The Sonoma house’s costs were about 10% higher compared to a traditional remodeling project, but should quickly recoup that investment through energy cost savings. In Europe, costs are only 1% to 4% higher since building materials that meet Passive House Institute standards are more plentiful.

Denton admits that he was initially skeptical about building to Passive House Institute’s performance levels. “When I read the requirement of 0.6 air exchanges per hour at 50 Pascals, I thought it was a typo,“ quotes him as saying. “But that’s also what’s most impressed me about this construction.” The Passive House standards far surpass the LEED standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council."

And do you have a link or company that produces a window that you are citing? That's another awfully big number. You can't be saying that an American window, say 3'x5', would cost $82.50 vs a window that meets the Passivhaus standard costing $4,500. The first figure makes no sense (you can't even get the cheapest vinyl for that) and the second figure I find hard to believe.

I am someone who is very interested in this so I am always searching for more info. If you have hard data for these kinds of numbers I would very much like to become aware of it.



Bob Mariani 04-06-2010 06:11 AM

these numbers are wrong. Windows from Germany are about $100 sq ft. Windows here are about $30. But the cost difference is because architects, inspectors and builders are not up to understanding all the "standards" used to certify a home as "passive" This means 0 energy on the grid. Learning curve is very steep for these requirements. For a Diy'er putting in the time needed for extensive research you definitely can get it done cheaper. A good article on this is found in FineHomeBuilding magazine issue May 2010.

SPS-1 04-06-2010 05:31 PM

A passivhaus does pull energy from the grid. That would be a net-zero house, which is different.
I can see it costing 20 - 30% more easily. You pay more initially, but hopefully save along the way, and hopefully sell the house for more later on. But we have the wrong mind-set. Its always "where can I get the cheapest....?", not "where can I get the most efficient...?" or the best quality. And then people complain their made in China junk is no good. ( not to offend the Chinese -- that is simply a readily available source of goods where they will build to any quality level that you are willing to pay for. )
The windows I see in new houses are actually my pet peeve. I don't like spending crazy sums for freakin windows either, but the leaky things I have in my house are just plain wrong. When enough people insist on highly efficient windows, they will be more affordable.
I don't plan on building a new house anytime soon, so I don't think I'll have the opportunity to find out if I am really willing to ante-up the extra cost.

Scuba_Dave 04-06-2010 06:41 PM

Over 12" of insulation in the walls
I went with 2x6 walls....contemplated (2) offset 2x4 walls each with R13 But that didn't happen :(

moorewarner 04-06-2010 09:50 PM

Here is a nice illustrative cross section of a window that appears to be designed to the Passivhaus standard,

moorewarner 04-06-2010 11:04 PM

Short of nuclear fusion, I think this type of building is going to become standard in the future.

I mean to figure out and start applying this to rehabs. So I am going to keep this thread alive with info as I come across it toward that end.

SPS-1 04-07-2010 07:49 PM

Here is a good article:

They say
"During the winter, the coldest surface temperature in the room will be the window. If you donít have a radiator in your room, the difference between the surface temperature of the window and the mean surface temperature of the room should not be more than 3 degrees Celsius; thatís for comfort reasons.Ē :thumbsup:

Heck, on a very cold winter day in my house, not only do I have condensation on the inside of my windows, I sometimes have ice !!! And I don't live in a 1945 house. It was built in 1997.

Scuba_Dave 04-07-2010 07:54 PM

I used to have snow come in under the basement door
Some of the single pane windows were broken & cardboard taped -loosely - over the holes
Basement used to dip down to the low 40's...maybe even lower
I'm not sure why non-one ever bothered to fix the problems

There is a lot of waste in a poorly insulated house

High Gear 06-19-2010 10:11 PM

I was lucky enough to walk through this house as it was being built and talk to the engineer/ homeowner and the builder.

SIP construction , insulated thermo mass lower floor , Canadian sourced windows triple pane ( Loewen ) Canadian sourced exterior doors ( more energy efficient ) , thermo storage with a bank of marathon water heaters , capturing heat from a gap underneath the steel roof, air-lock foyer , ect ect.

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