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Helping Builders Embrace Passive House Standards


Passive House’s mission to transform the construction process and ensure high-quality, sustainable building becomes the norm is easy for most contractors and architects to understand. But when confronted with builders’ initial concerns, skepticism frequently settles in, ultimately resulting in architectural sacrifices to high-performance design. The daunting challenge is to address those concerns by providing actionable training and emphasizing Passive House’s relevance to their specific business goals, so the recent PH2021: Passive House for All conference included a session on how to do precisely that.

RELATED: Built for Comfort—Passive House in Colorado

Since most contractors and traditional tradespeople are not trained in Passive House practices, to obviate potential push-back as well as to secure buy-in, a little on-site education can go a long way, says Emu Systems’ cofounder and chief product officer Enrico Bonilauri, who led the “Keeping It Real: The Passive House Standard meets American builders” discussion. And since critical thinking is a core tenet at Passive House, those training sessions should all boil down to the “why.”

Indeed, offering granular, on-site and trade-specific training sessions provide the ideal context to foster that understanding, as it provides opportunities to:

  • Correct poor habits gleaned from less-than-reputable sources such as YouTube, blogs or a friend’s advice.
  • Develop more confident, independent workers.
  • Avoid mistakes.
  • Establish clear goals and objectives.
  • Focus on function versus product.
  • Initiate job role rotations to encourage cross-training.
  • Hold everyone accountable.
  • Strengthen the contractor/architect relationship, thereby allowing them to bring their expertise to the table rather than simply taking direction from architects.

Bonilauri encourages all builders to pursue the Passive House Certification, as its rigorous third-party verification not only separates them from less reputable companies, but also assures clients you are capable of creating the high-quality space they desire.

“Anyone can say they’ve run a marathon, but actually doing it is something else,” Bonilauri emphasizes. “Anyone can say they can build a Passive House, but only those who are certified can actually deliver.”


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