If you've spent any time researching energy-efficient homes, you've likely come across the concept of "the passive house."
What is a passive house?
According to Passive House Massachusetts, a passive house is "is a voluntary international building standard developed by the Passive House Institute (PHI), located in Darmstadt, Germany."
This building standard is all about rigorous energy efficiency. Think superinsulation, airtight building "envelopes," high-performance windows, and effective exploitation of solar energy (i.e. "solar gain"). It's about achieving comfortable air temperatures year-round without heating or cooling systems, thanks to the building's design, materials, and stringent standards.
The Passive House Institute US explains, "Passive building comprises a set of design principles used to attain a quantifiable and rigorous level of energy efficiency within a specific quantifiable comfort level. 'Maximize your gains, minimize your losses' summarize the approach."
Here's a 90-second video that provides an excellent easy-to-understand overview:
Passive Homes in Massachusetts
This past October, our very own Susan Arnold and Steve Brand attended the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association's Pro Tour of Wayland's First Passive House. (Wolfers Lighting was a sponsor of the event.)
Susan served as the lighting designer on the project. Her main job was to suggest energy efficient lighting for task and ambiance—as well as safety. For example, the baths and kitchen toe kicks have nightlights so people can walk safely throughout the home in the middle of the night. The step light from the second to first floor also allows people to navigate safely in the dark.
As for Susan's favorite lighting features, she says, "I love the integrated lighting in the kitchen from the shelfs to the toe kick—you can't see the light source, but you can see and feel the soft effect. I also really like the Passive House builders' choice in the recessed fixtures by Lightheaded Lighting. This brand has a cool design, but the aperture is very small. The builders also went with a silver finish on a white ceiling, which was a bold design move that absolutely works."
During the tour, Susan and Steve talked with area trade partners about energy efficient lighting (specifically LEDs). LEDs can absolutely complement the passive house methodology. Today's LEDs offer plenty of options. You can now find more specialty LED bulbs (including smaller ones). Think warm dimming, cooler or warmer color temperatures, and high CRI (color rendering index).
Do you need assistance choosing the right LEDs for your space? Stop by one of our lighting showrooms. Our staff is always happy to help!
Image Credit: NESEA