I just ran across this delightful article about the first Passive House, built in Darmstadt Germany in 1992. The article describes the process the builders went through to model and design it, a four unit residential block, then to build this new type of building, even creating the new highly efficient windows and doors by hand.
The article follows the building through its first 15 years of operation (it’s still occupied). The team led by Dr. Feist instrumented the house thoroughly and did extensive measurements throughout its first fifteen years to validate their models. When Amory Lovins saw the house and the measured results in in 1995, he said:
This is not just a scientific experiment, this is the solution. You just need to redesign the details in order to reduce the additional costs – and I’m convinced that is possible
This was followed by a “working group on Passive Houses” which then went on to bigger pilots, and the now snowballing Passive House movement in Europe, driven by Dr. Feist’s PassivHaus Institut. They did prove “it was possible” to build Passive Houses economically, and the results are there for everyone to see.
It’s a compelling and inspiring story of theory and practice, tied together with instrumentation and measurement, achieving a real breakthrough in buildings – a potentially world-saving breakthrough.