What is the value proposition of a Passive House? Will it cost more?

Passive House was originally designed to boulster affordable housing options. The premise: drive down the operational cost and create a lower ‘whole lifetime cost’ of a residential building. While the investment is higher upfront to build, it is of course a higher calibre product than a conventional building. Like any robust or premium product, it costs more upfront. A Tesla costs more than a Honda, and a Goretex jacket costs more than a basic windbreaker. But we value the proposition of these items when we learn that they have better performance and longevity. There is more inherent value. 

The primary drivers of that upfront Passive House investment are a deeper and more thorough design process, third-party quality assurance and certification, additional insulation and airtightness materials, and premium windows. At Frontiers, we have discovered that this is an additional 10% investment in the construction budget on top of a conventional build. The value proposition then becomes, is a 10% increase in construction investment worth the benefits:

  • Immediate energy cost savings … 
  • Protection against future higher rates of energy … 
  • Lower whole lifetime cost … 
  • Economic resilience … 
  • Resilience against a changing climate … 
  • Longevity and durability of structural components … 
  • Exceptional indoor air quality … 
  • Consistent indoor thermal comfort …
  • Extremely quiet interior …

Imagine paying 80% less on your home heating costs. If you are a homeowner, you have almost certainly had a passionate conversation with your neighbor or friend about utility bills. Nobody likes paying ever-increasing amounts to large faceless utility companies. Aside from a significant reduction in the cost, how about protection against future increases – a 10% increase on a small amount hurts a lot less than a 10% increase on your current bills. This economic resilience is the type of paradigm shift that is going to get us through this challenge. 

Let’s talk about structure and resilience: by wrapping the house in a thick layer of exterior insulation, the structural walls and beams are protected from freeze/thaw, water, humidity, and temperature extremes. In contrast to conventional buildings that are exposed to these elements, a Passive House results in a building that lasts significantly longer than a conventional home. Instead of a conventional home that lasts a few decades, a Passive House can last centuries and be generational. 

Airtight construction, along with a premium whole home fresh air ventilation machine results in continuous fresh filtered air. After hearing terms like ‘airtight construction’, many people have visions of an uncomfortable and stuffy home – this couldn’t be further from the truth. Continuous fresh filtered air complete with heat recovery is a key design component of a high-performance home that results in incredible indoor air quality as well as significant energy savings. Passive House holds exceptional occupant comfort as one of its foremost principles. These homes are stunningly quiet, thermally comfortable, and extremely healthy. 

Would building a 10% smaller building (and thereby offsetting the 10% higher construction investment cost), be a better approach? Is the extra 10% in cost worth the benefits of comfort, health, durability, and lower operational cost? Only you can answer this value proposition question!

Contact us today to get started on your next High Performance project.