As an enhancement, and complement, to the Living Building Challenge; the design team is working to meet the Passive House Standard for Nuthatch Hollow. The Living Building Challenge is rigorous, demanding, and well-rounded as a “Sustainable Building” standard. It sets up a great framework for nesting smaller scale, more specific goals.

The LBC Energy Petal intent is “To rely solely on renewable forms of energy and operate year-round in a safe, pollution-free manner.” [i] To satisfy this intent, petal achievement requires the project to supply 105% of its energy needs by on-site renewables on a net-annual basis, without on-site combustion, and provide energy storage backup for resiliency. A project meeting this requirement is creating more energy than it uses every year. As net-zero buildings become more mainstream, the LBC net-positive energy target is the next step forward to doing good, rather than less harm.

As a complement to the LBC requirement, the intensive energy use reduction requirements of Passive House result in an even better investment: a building with a greater level of resiliency than that of net positive energy alone. The Passive House Standard lends further rigor to the energy design of the project, resulting in a building which remains comfortable and safe in changing climates and extreme weather, with less reliance on energy production systems. The building science based approach of Passive House results in durable assemblies and healthier buildings. The combination of these two standards surpasses the achievements of each of them on its own.

One of the goals of this project is to serve as an example, and a teaching tool, for how to design better, more sustainable buildings, to make sustainable design and construction more accessible to everyone. Passive House is based on the concept of global energy sharing, in that everyone on the planet gets the same energy allowance, sized to mitigate climate change. In order for this to work, it needs to happen on a global scale, which means it needs to be achievable by everyone. The more Passive House (and LBC) projects which are constructed, the more mainstream these targets and strategies will become. Through this process and this project, people will learn about Passive House and the ways they can apply the same strategies, goals and principles to their own houses and buildings.

How these two standards work together is a significant area of exploration at this stage of the design process. Over the next couple blog posts we will discuss specific aspects of that exploration.

Written by Christina Aßmann and Nicole Schuster, Ashley McGraw Architects


[i] Living Building Challenge 3.0 Energy Petal Handbook