Passive House: A Building Revolution is a new documentary by Community Solutions, the makers of The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.
ThePassive House method of building provides a way to reduce a home’s heating and cooling energy use and CO2 emissions by 80% – the amount climate scientists say is needed by 2050 to stabilize Earth’s climate. To be released spring 2013!
Passive House: A Building Revolution
is a film that explains the environmental challenge and opportunity our buildings present. It shows that it is possible to reduce the primary energy buildings use (heating and cooling) by 80%, as compared to the 15 to 40 % goals currently set by Energy Star, LEED and the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB). It also explains the importance of retrofitting our 116 million existing homes.
The film describes a rapidly growing movement in Europe and the U.S. aimed towards drastically reducing building energy consumption. It tells the story of America’s super-insulated house movement of the 1970s, which led to the German Passiv Haus. Today there are more than 20,000 such buildings in Europe.
Passive House: A Building Revolution showcases architects, builders, and home owners from across the country share their experience of building a Passive House or doing a deep-energy retrofit.
Eight Key Reasons for Making This Film
1. Buildings use more energy than transportation or “industry.” Almost 50% of our nation’s energy and CO2 emissions comes from our buildings. U.S. energy use is divided as follows: 22% residential buildings, 18% commercial buildings, 28% transportation, and 32% industry. Eight percent of U.S. industry energy use is for making building materials and construction itself, giving a total of 48% for buildings – almost 50%. Of this 85% is for ongoing operation of our buildings (heating and cooling) and only 15% is for construction, or the embodied energy.
2. Buildings last a long time (60 to 100+ years) so they need to be very energy efficient – more so than cars which last 15 years. Gasoline mileage can change quickly, but conventional buildings built today or ones that only reduce energy use by 15-30% will be generating large amounts of CO2 for decades.
3. American “green” building programs objectives for saving energy are low, in the range of 15-35%, with some at 40%. When tested, they often don’t achieve their stated energy saving goals. Since 1999 “green” building has only produced 1,400,000 of the 18,690,000 homes built. Most of those were Energy Star with 15% energy savings. We need to set much higher energy reduction standards for new and retrofitted buildings if we want to reduce CO2 emissions 80% by 2050.
4. A building method and standard, Passive House, exists in Germany that reduces building heating and cooling energy use by 80% or more. It began in North America in the 1970s and 1980s as the Super-insulated House. The Passive House concept has been proven in over 25,000 residential and commercial buildings in Europe.
5. Passive House buildings are cheaper to operate than conventional buildings. Most people do not consider what is called “lifecycle” analysis when designing a building, but only the up-front cost of the building; they tend to ignore the cost of energy used to operate it. A super-efficient building will cost the owner far less than a normal building over its lifetime.
6. Our houses today are generating three times the CO2 emissions of our grandparent’s homes. Passive Houses can be any size, but in Europe they are typically smaller than houses in the U.S. Our homes tend to be very big – the square feet per person has increased from 250 sq. ft. in 1950 to 850 sq. ft. in 2005.
7. America’s biggest energy problem is the number of buildings already built – 116 million dwellings and five million commercial buildings. All of these need to be made more efficient. The German Passive House techniques can be used to achieve large energy reductions in such buildings. The cost to do a deep energy retrofit on an existing building today is high – up to one half what it costs to build an equivalent new building. Major efforts are underway worldwide to reduce the cost of such retrofits.
8. The Government’s program, “Retrofit for Recovery,” is developing retrofit options. In 2010 $452 million was granted to 34 municipalities to develop replicable energy retrofitting techniques, materials and financing options. This shows the government’s recognition of the building problem. Passive House techniques could be important to the success of this program.
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Passive House: A Building Revolution
A film that is needed now!
This film is being made with lots of volunteer effort. To reach a wide audience, we will need your financial help.