On November 16th, Passive House Alliance Chicago and the Illinois Green Alliance hosted a half-day workshop focused on multifamily projects. Passive House is a rigorous building energy efficiency standard that focuses on development of buildings with high-performance envelopes and passive design features that require little energy for space heating or cooling.

The speaker panel, which included Hank Keating, AIA, of Trinity Financial, Steve Bluestone– founder of Passive Dwellings, and Katrin Klingenberg– Executive Director of Passive House Institute US, spoke about the recent surge in multifamily projects earning Passive House certification, particularly in the affordable housing realm. Incentives in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) application process in Pennsylvania and grants from the state energy authority in New York have made these states dynamic Passive House markets. The larger projects in these markets have demonstrated an encouraging 0%-5% percent construction cost premium.

Speakers emphasized that Passive House and affordable housing were a natural fit, as the buildings are often retained long-term by the original owner to take full advantage of the reduced operating costs and investment in better envelopes. Market-rate multifamily construction is also enjoying Passive House benefits of healthier indoor air, improved thermal comfort, and acoustic isolation from outside noise.

PHIUS can help assess a project’s Passive House viability early in the process through their Feasibility Study program. The program generates an energy model based on a preliminary drawing set and 3D massing model. More info can be found at https://multifamily.phius.org/service-category/feasibility-study.

Tony Holub Elected 2018 Passive House Alliance-Chicago (PHA-C) President

Farr Associates is also pleased to share that Tony Holub, AIA, LEED AP, CPHC, will serve as the 2018 Passive House Alliance Chicago president. PHA-C has a reputation of being the go-to source for all things Passive House in the Chicago area. Their monthly meet-ups include education, discussion, and networking to increase our local knowledge base. To address the recent expansion of the Passive House market, they are ramping up efforts to educate and train more designers, engineers, builders, and developers to adequately respond to this growth and are ready to meet the demand.  

Chicago enjoyed prestige within the green building community for many years, having the most LEED Certified projects built to date. This was no accident– it was the result of intentional City policies and incentives like the popular Green Permit Program, which City leaders adopted early and enthusiastically supported. If current trends continue, however, Chicago is at risk of being overtaken by other cities who have evolved their sustainability policies to focus on greater building energy reduction. Updated policies encourage, and some cases require, projects meet PHIUS Certification standards. The energy efficiency of a PHIUS-certified project can exceed that of an Energy Star or LEED Silver project by over 70%.

PHA-C envisions Chicago with “a Passive Building on every block by 2030,” because demonstration is the most effective proof of concept.  

To address this, PHA-C envisions Chicago with “a Passive Building on every block by 2030,” because demonstration is the most effective proof of concept. Every neighborhood and every community would benefit by seeing and experiencing Passive House first-hand.

To learn more about Passive House Alliance-Chicago or attend one of their events, visit https://www.meetup.com/Passive-House-Alliance-Chicago/.