Exposing Americans to passive houses

A Chicago Tribune article suggests more Americans would like passive houses if they knew about them:

The idea of passive house design isn’t new. It was first promoted in the early 1990s…

Torres Moskovitz estimates there may be 40,000 certified passive house buildings in the world, but probably fewer than 50 projects in the United States…

The stringent passive house — or Passivhaus — standards and the Passive House Planning Package software were developed by the Passive House Institute in Germany. The U.S.-based Passive House Institute is currently formulating its own standards. The PHPP software incorporates a designer’s calculations and helps design a passive house.

A passive house saves up to 90 percent of space heating costs and 75 percent of overall energy costs, though some European studies indicate the numbers may be even higher…

“People learning about it are so into it, maybe it becomes a bottoms-up approach, comes from the public and then the government has to react to our demand,” Torres Moskovitz says. “There’s definitely interest in the building community, but it has a way to go before everyone understands.”

I think a lot of Americans would be very interested in the cost savings of passive houses. But, they would want to know: if I pay more upfront for such a home, what is the payoff in reduced utility costs down the road? Even if there are significant savings, I imagine these houses are going to be part of a niche market for a long time as more people learn about them and builders learn to see them as profitable options. Perhaps passive houses need some sort of public relations push like a recent initiative regarding public housing?

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