Did you know that the design of your property has the most influence on its sustainability? More than half of an average household’s energy consumption is used just for heating and cooling. But by designing your properties more sustainably, you can cut your energy consumption down to as low as a tenth of that of a traditional build.
If you are ready to make your properties more energy efficient, passive house standards could be key. Here are three things property investors should know about passive houses.
1. What is a Passive House?
“Passive houses” are built to meet voluntary construction standards of being energy efficient, affordable, comfortable, and ecological at the same time. Through their design and construction, they have homogeneous interior temperatures that change only slowly. They’re also known for fresh, clean air circulated through high-quality filters. In the U.S., the PHIUS + 2015 Standard for passive buildings is based on five principles: airtightness, electrical loads, heating and cooling, ventilation, and waterproofing.
These ultra-low-energy buildings are often single-family homes, but can also be multi-family homes or commercial buildings.
2. How Much Energy Do Passive Houses Save?
Passive houses are built with well-insulated shells and advanced window technology. A quality ventilation system also consistently supplies fresh air, which results in superior air quality without causing any unpleasant drafts. Thanks to this design, passive houses see heating- and cooling-related energy savings of up to 90% compared with typical building stock and more than 75% compared with average new construction homes.
In addition to saving money, passive house building techniques also provide great comfort for residents. Quality ventilation systems guarantee low radon levels and improved health conditions. Plus, steady internal temperatures make living pleasant during both cold and warm months.
3. Are Passive Houses Affordable?
Yes, passive houses can be surprisingly affordable to build. They do not require conventional heating and cooling systems, meaning your construction budget can be spent instead on better windows, thicker insulation, and a ventilation system. In a country like Germany, builders can expect to spend 3–8% more to build a passive home. In the U.S., larger projects like the dorm for Cornell University’s Roosevelt Island Tech Campus are 2–3% percent more expensive to achieve passive house standards. However, what additional costs go into construction are quickly made up for long-term energy savings.
It’s also possible to retrofit existing homes to meet passive house standards. When making renovations, add thermal protection measures with passive house-grade insulation, upgraded windows with high R-values, and improved ventilation and dehumidification systems. The result is a property that is not only affordable, pleasant, and comfortable, but also healthy.
Property Management Help Starts with NAI Beverly-Hanks
There are many advantages to owning multiple investment properties. And properties that are built sustainably and with energy efficiency in mind will retain their value and commercial appeal over time. If you have any questions about making your existing properties more energy efficient, we’re here to help!