1)  The global gold standard in healthy and energy efficient building design.

2)  A scientifically based, empirically driven building methodology proven through tens of thousands of examples from around the world.

3)  An actual building (a "passive" "house," "school," "office," "townhouse," "condo"... )

4)  A growing lifestyle movement,

5)  A moral and economic choice.

what does A "passivhaus" Building achieve?

Existing buildings leak air and with air leakages significant losses of heating and cooling energy.  A certified Passivhaus Institut (PHI) design building achieves an 80 - 90% reduction in energy demand for heating and because principally by plugging the gaps and cracks that would otherwise result through a normal construction process, among other requirements.  Other building components like heat pumps and on-site solar PVs enable a PHI building to achieve energy (grid) independence while delivering pristine indoor air quality. 


1)  Is global warming real?

2) Are carbon emissions harmful to health? 

3) Can individuals and societies significantly reduce harmful air and environmental pollution? 

If you answered no to any of these questions, then you should build, renovate or buy a PHI passive house just because it's super healthy, comfortable and will save you lots of money each month.  Doing so enhances job creation and promotes economic growth.  And, it doesn't cost more all else equal.  If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you might find the following interesting.

Global warming constitutes an ongoing, one million year old process. But, credible scientific research suggests that man's adoption of carbon fuels over the past 100 years, and the resulting pronounced increase in carbon emissions, has dramatically increased the rate of global warming Fossil fuels provide over 80% of the energy used by industry and by consumers for domestic and personal transportation needs. On average one unit of fossil fuel energy received from the grid produces well over one pound of carbon emissions (NatAvg. ~ 1.5 lbs.)  An average household in Chicago can easily produce 150,000 pounds of carbon per year for its domestic and personal transportation needs.  In effect, mankind created a massive environmental earthquake unleashing into the atmosphere a carbon emission tsunami of ever increasing size which serves as an insulating blanket elevating temperatures at sea level.  Some scientists claim that if the average surface temperature at sea level rises by just another 1-2 degrees that a mass extinction event results.  Some 49% of carbon emissions stem from industrial production and transportation while some 51% stems specifically from the households!  That's household heating, cooling, hot water, overhead lights, refrigeration, cooking, communications, any other domestic use, and, personal transportation. Scalable solutions exist today that could roll back this amount by 50% in but a few decades. 


The thermal image (heat map) of the Chicago skyline above looks like every city across the globe.   The night sky (dark blue) represents cool temperature.  In contrast yellow hues represent heat (energy) radiating out of buildings. 

We literally don't see insidious building energy/heat loss as environmental pollution but it's staring right at you through this lense.  What's the difference between insidious building energy loss and a bus smoke?  We can see and smell the belching smoke. Insidious building energy loss constitutes approximately 50% of manmade carbon pollution and 70% ends up in cities inducing an array of major respiratory and related health issues.  Insidious building energy loss constitutes the single largest man made contribution to global warming and it can be eliminated by building and renovating to the Passivhaus Institut Building Standard (PHI Building Standard.)

Passive House - 

If you're a homeowner (or would be homeowner) wouldn't it be great if you could heat your house with a candle and cool it with an ice cube?  If you're a building owner wouldn't it be great to slash your energy operating expense by 80% or more per year in perpetuity?  What if an array of indoor air quality, comfort and environmental benefits resulted as a consequence? What if it cost less than $1.00 per day for 100% of all of your energy needs?

This thermal image (heat map) immediately above shows an actual "certified" PHI passive house renovation in Brooklyn, NY. It's a winter night.  Blue means relatively cold and yellow means relatively warm. Unlike the other buildings, the outside of this passive house is relatively cold. The energy stays inside the house due to really good windows and doors, sufficient and continuous insulation, a continuous air tight layer, the absences of thermal bridges and careful attention to detail during the construction process. Continuous balanced mechanical ventilation provides fresh filtered air while conducting 80% of the embedded energy through an exchange process.   


This building represents one of the first PHI certified buildings in the US.  Tens of thousands of actual  "passive houses" exist throughout the rest of the world and on every continent including Antarctica.  They come in all shapes, flavors, and uses.  Only a handful of passive houses exist in the US today but many passive house projects are underway.  Each uses some 80 - 90% less energy than an unrenovated existing building and each provides remarkable indoor comfort and air quality. 

The Consumption Mix

This graphic reflects the type and quantity of energy we use at the household level.

This graphic shows where we use our energy at the sector level.

This graphic shows the composition of the energy we use by type.  Twenty rooftop PV (photovoltaic) panels and 600 SF of rooftop space can satisfy the total energy requirement of a 3500 SF single family passive house - about 10K kWH per year.  

The greatest single action a person could take to reduce their contribution to global warming would be to live in a "passivhaus" building because such a building requires 80-90% less energy to heat and cool.   If the passive house in question was outfitted with PV panels that prioritized site consumption over the grid, 100% of the site energy produced would be used at the site without demanding grid energy first as is the case with most grid-tied systems.  This means that your 100% electric vehicle truly produces zero carbon.

According to COMED's own EPA disclosure, for every 1000 kWH of electricity produced 967 pounds of carbon result. The average Chicago family of four can easily consume some 100,000 kWH per year of energy and therefore would generate some 97,000 pounds of carbon per year. That's about 20 Ford F 150 pick-up trucks, or, 21,500 bricks per year, or, the entire 2016 US Olympic Team.

Big picture: War, terrorism, trade battles, drugs, gang violence, bad schools, wage inequality all pale in magnitude. Civilization as we understand it - perhaps even life itself, hangs in the balance. Global warming is no joke. 

let the best ideas come forward - 

Click below to learn how the world's most highly regarded, most rigorous and most energy efficient building standard is changing the world for the better.

Be Aware - 

A smoggy day in Harbin, a city of 11 million in northern China. Many cities in China experience such smog induced by coal fired power plants. This growth comes at the cost of  a loss of 5 years of life expectancy versus southern Chinese cities due to heightened heart and lung disease due to smog. Click here.

LA in 1980 and LA recently. USC researchers concluded in a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine that health increased as air pollution decreased over the 30 year period.   Click here.

Some 60 million people migrate to cities each year.  Over 50% of of all carbon emissions produced stem from buildings and 70% of all carbon emissions end up in cities. Therefore, significantly reducing carbon emissions stemming from buildings alone would significantly reduce carbon emissions worldwide and in cities in particular. 

Excellence Defined -

The following picture represents a thermal image of a passivhaus building next to a conventionally constructed building.   The Passivhaus Institut (PHI) Building appears as blue because the building retains as much as 90% of the interior energy when compared with current new construction methods.  That means 90% less energy is demanded from the grid and 90% less carbon produced. Hence, by definition, it's already a "Nearly Zero Energy Building"(NZEB) as opposed to a "Net Zero Energy Building" which could still require significant amounts energy from the grid and hence still produce several tons of carbon each year.  From a NZEB starting point it becomes that much easier to become grid independent with on-site PV and wind energy production. This combination not only minimizes grid draw and thus man made carbon emissions but also preserves and enhances creature comforts. Passivhaus plus PVs means household carbon emission production approaches zero.

A PHI (PASSIVHAUS INSTITUTbuilding, regardless of type, relies substantially on the respective occupant's own body heat (energy,) and their behaviors (TVs, lights, computers, hair dryers) as the primary heat source  which when released in the building stays in the building.  This consequence starts with a holistic data driven engineering model titled "Passivhaus Planning Package" (PHPP) principally relying on the balance between these two major factors:  

  1. Building Envelope
    1. Thermal bridge mitigation,
    2. Continuous insulation,
    3. Continuous air barrier, 
    4. Glazing
  2. Indoor Air Quality
    1. Continuous balanced mechanical ventilation with energy/heat exchange.   

Pristine indoor air quality, balanced relative humidity and constant temperature among all surfaces results - 24/7/365.  A small ductless air conditioning system provides cooling and supplemental heat when required. Other benefits include acoustic separation (peace and quiet) and weather event safety.  When the grid goes down during a hurricane, earthquake or blizzard, the temperature remains relatively constant for several days.   Low energy demand and low variance of temperature and relative humidity in the first instance directly results in very low heating and cooling demand from upstream carbon producing energy sources. Other benefits include ease of operation and low operating expense due to the lack of extensive ductwork far more complicated heating and cooling systems. Occupants glowingly express that they experience comfort levels they never imagined. (See the Passivhaus Living Explained tab.)

Passivhaus Institut Certified Buildings maintain their initial performance levels over the life of the building.  Long term data sets prove this point.

An increasing number of major state and municipal jurisdictions like Brussels Belgium, Dublin, Ireland, and New York City, among others, have recently adopted Passivhaus Institut Building Standard principles and standards into their respective Building Codes.  Tens of thousands of buildings of all types including schools, assisted living, townhouses, public housing and custom homes on every continent have been built or renovated to this rigorous, data driven and third party quality assured international standard.  There's even a Passivhaus in Antarctica.

If we as a society build and  renovate to the Passivhaus Institut Building Standard total man made carbon emissions will significantly decline elevating our standard of living while creating more healthy, productive and sustainable living environments. 

I established this site to promote the Passivhaus Institut Building Standard in Chicago and I founded Kenwood Construction Services Inc. to build and renovate to the Passivhaus Institut Building Standard.  I'm a Certified Passivhaus Institut Tradesperson and a rising Certified Passivhaus Institut Design Consultant.

Please click here for more information.

Michael R Conners - Founder



International Passive House Association

Passivhaus Institut