When companies are considering constructing new manufacturing centers, they have to concern themselves not only with finding the right property for sale, but also whether their new building will comply with an environmentally beneficial building method, such as LEED or Passivhaus.
Passivhaus, or Passive House in the United States, is a German certification for green, energy-efficient construction that is gaining traction in U.S. cities, both large and small.
While few non-residential buildings have been certified as Passive House structures, there are many ways that large companies seeking to build new manufacturing plants or commercial spaces can take advantage of this incredibly efficient building method. The basic concept of Passive House construction aims to make a building over 90 percent more energy efficient than a typical construction.
In a Passive House dwelling, you may never or rarely have to turn on heating or cooling systems, because the house has been optimized to be energy efficient.
How can this happen, to such a high degree, that Passive House construction in cities like Dublin, Ireland, with monthly temperature lows near 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, would not require turning on the heat?
In a Passive House building, the walls contain a high amount of insulation to retain existing heat. Builders can choose triple-glazed windows to prevent energy leakage and locate large windows on the south side of the house to optimize natural heat from the sun. In a Passive House building, windows located on other sides of the house tend to be small so as to guard against draft and chills. Those large, south-facing windows are nice, but they will be the largest windows by far. If your property has beautiful views to the north and west, a Passive House structure will not provide large windows that maximize the natural beauty.
Because Passive House construction is so well insulated, constructed to minimize energy leakage and drafts, the owners have to actively circulate air in the house.
Passive House buildings use a heat exchanger and a fan to allow cool air from the ground to circulate through. This takes advantage of natural cooling properties, so you don’t have to create cool air with a cooling system. With Passivhaus, the location and natural properties of the real estate are nearly as important as the construction, so finding the right property for sale is the first step in the process of constructing one of the most energy efficient buildings in the world.
Differences exist between the Passive House method and LEED certification, a long-recognized green building method that consists of four levels:
- and Platinum
LEED certification emphasizes using recycled materials, cleaning up the construction site so that no waste is left behind, and choosing green building material. With a LEED-certified project, expect to see recycled building material, eco-friendly building material, and low-emitting, environmentally friendly sealers and caulks. LEED projects are energy efficient compared to standard buildings, but not as much as their Passive House counterparts. LEED buildings typically improve energy efficiency by about 30 percent, compared to 90 percent for Passive House.
Germany’s climate is milder than that of the U.S., making minimal to no use of heating and cooling systems easier to maintain. Passive House and LEED both have their advantages, both offer sustainable building choice, both improve energy efficiency, and both promote sustainable energy usage.
With companies like Volkswagen going green, creating a LEED-certified Platinum manufacturing plant, the green building movement continues to grow in strength and notoriety.