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  • Carol Mckee

Who Gets Involved In Building a Passive House?


When it comes to building a Passive House , there are four distinct “players” you need to keep in mind. Building a Passive House structure, whether commercial or residential, in the southern part of the US, they are better off being viewed as four different entities. The ultimate goal is to have your building certified by Passive House Institute US or PHIUS for short.


There are many different people involved in making sure a building meets the standards of Passive House Institute US (PHIUS). Navigating the requirements means that you need to know how is involved from the very start of your project .


First you need a Passive House certified Architect. PHIUS has requirements about what type of architect can be involved in the project. They are:

o Required to be PHIUS certified.

o Architect them must do the entire design of the house

o The Architect then enlists engineers as needed

o They bring the house plans to the stage where they are ready to apply for a permit

o The architect is ideally local and can do site visits but this is not a requirement

o But especially with a Passive House build , it is a big advantage to have the Architect available locally, to help when needed in the build process.


You also need an Energy Modeler. This person makes sure that the project as built will meet the PHIUS requirements and guidelines for energy efference.

o The Energy Modeler must be PHIUS certified.

o Sometimes this function is also fulfilled by the architect, but it's also permissible if done by a third party.

o This person does the number crunching for energy usage as part of the submittal of the project to PHIUS for certification.


Next you need a PHIUS Rater. This person does on site verification that the builder is conforming to the PHIUS standards laid out by the Architect and the Energy Modeler during the construction phase of the project.

o The PHIUS Rater must be PHIUS certified

o They are who does the field inspections and tests to verify conformance.


Finally you need a Builder.

o A PHIUS certified builder Is not required in order to get a building certified by PHIUS, but it is strongly recommended.

o There are a lot of reasons why using a PHIUS certified builder is not just optimal but important. Using a builder with out a certification with PHIUS will likely create more cost, rework and delays.

o To maximum results, the builder of a Passive House projec in the US should have PHIUS+ certification.

One other person you might want to involve is a Real Estate Agent. Enlist a good real estate agent, who can help you locate the land to build on if you do not already have a plot.

o I can refer you to the person that I have a lot of personal faith in, and will be representing me, when we sell the home we are currently in.

We went through an extensive screening process where I interviewed the local architects who are PHIUS certified, as well as the Energy Modelers in the area, and the PHIUS Raters, and I think I have assembled a good group of professionals that I consider my team for this and future projects. When starting your own project it is best practice for you to contract with them separately from your builder. This is what is best both legally as well as ethically, so that you as the customer are better served and are also better protected.


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