WUFI Passive: One giant leap for passive buildings!

We learned long ago that North America’s climate extremes present critical challenges for passive house designers — the need for cooling and dehumidification are bigger issues here than in Central Europe, for example. That’s why WUFI/ORNL/IBP and WUFI Pro have become essential complementary tools for many CPHCs.

Screenshot of WUFI Passive interface

Well, we have some exciting news–PHIUS has collaborated with the renowned Fraunhofer IBP to create WUFI Passive. This powerful new, commercial-grade, user-friendly software tool combines passive energy modeling with the WUFI’s hygrothermal modeling capabilities.

Fraunhofer brought its considerable software chops and building science experience; PHIUS added years of passive house experience and data gained designing, building, and monitoring passive projects in a wide range of climate zones.

The result is the WUFI Passive–the next generation tool for passive house!

Read more about it here at Fraunhofer IBP.

See WUFI Passive for yourself at the 7th Annual North American Passive House Conference in Denver, September 27-30

And join us in Denver for the WUFI+ coming out party:

  • A full day WUFI Passive Preconference workshop, Thursday, Sept. 27, has been devoted to the new tools. (Requires registration for both morning and afternoon segments.) The sessions will be taught by PHIUS instructors, Florian Antretter (who leads WUFI Passive development for Fraunhofer IBP) and Achilles Karagiosis (of Owens Corning, who is also on the development team).
  • The Main Conference sessions include a Friday segment presented by members of the WUFI Passive development team.
  • PHIUS/PHAUS will be running a demonstration version in the exhibit hall.

There are still slots for attendees and exhibitors, but time’s running out—register now!

PHIUS+ and DOE Challenge Home Partnership

On Monday, August 20, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new partnership between the DOE Challenge Home program and the Passive House Institute US to cooperate on the promotion of various levels of high-performance buildings on the path to zero net-energy.

This news is a huge development for the passive house community and for PHIUS. The endorsement of PHIUS+ passive house certification through the DOE instantly makes passive house the most energy efficient option for builders, designers and developers who want to achieve a zero energy building. This recognition will go a long way toward making passive house mainstream.

This took a lot of time and effort, and we owe thanks to Sam Rashkin, Chief Architect at the DOE, whose knowledge, vision and determination were critical to the effort. (Sam was the keynote at last year’s North American Passive House Conference.)

So, how does this partnership change current PHIUS+ passive house certification and what do consultants need to know?

In a nutshell: not much. A passive house already fulfills most of the Challenge Home requirements – certification essentially remains the same process with a few minor additions! Those additions are very good improvements, making the home even better. Indoor air quality requirements ask for low VOC materials and the water efficiency requirements establish a reasonable savings baseline, all good things.

The Challenge Home requires rigorous third-party, on-site verification, which already is part of PHIUS+. PHIUS+ certified RESNET Raters already use an advanced passive house checklist created specifically for passive houses. (This testing protocol is actually more rigorous than the one the Challenge Home is using.)

What Challenge Home brings to the table that PHIUS+  did not before is a more formalized exterior water management and flashing checklist. Having seen quite a few bad water management details during certification so far, we are happy to add a more formalized process to assure the long term durability of the house. QAQC is crucial to assure quality in execution, actual performance and peace of mind for the client we found.

The most noteworthy change will be the inexpensive requirement to install provisions for a future renewable system. Solar readiness must be built in so that getting to zero with a small affordable renewable system down the road is possible without any hassle, the right thing to do to show that we are walking the talk!

Beginning with all newly signed contracts starting September 1, 2012, PHIUS will provide a one stop-shopping option: Getting certified under PHIUS+ simultaneously gets the Challenge Home label and the Energy Star label, all which enhance market recognition and incentive opportunities. Best of all, it’s all for the same price as before.

Mark Miller, executive Director of the Passive House Alliance US is organizing a webinar  to discuss the partnership and to give everybody the opportunity to ask clarifying questions. And my conference presentation in Denver will be on this topic, more opportunity to ask for more detailed information.

Hope to see (hear and read) you at the webinar and in September at the leading passive house event of the year, the 7th Annual Passive House Conference in Denver!