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Title:A critical analysis of the passive house standard for the climates of the United States
Author(s):Abendroth, Ryan
Advisor(s):Stallmeyer, John C.; Taylor, Mark S.; Anderson, James R.
Department / Program:Architecture
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Passive House
building science
Passive House Standard
building simulation
energy modeling
building energy modeling
Abstract:A "passive house" is a building that "can provide the necessary heating, cooling, and dehumidification through supply air ventilation" (Schneiders 2009). This study demonstrates that when using current technologies and practices, the functional definition of passive house as defined above by Schneiders and later redefined by Feist (Feist 2012) is not achievable in all US climate zones. To make possible the widespread adoption of this low energy standard, the standard itself needs to be adjusted and redefined. This thesis will answer the question of how the Passive House Standard's certification criteria could be adjusted to allow the Passive House Standard to become a readily usable metric throughout the United States. To illustrate the need for the standard to be adjusted, the study demonstrates that climate optimized building cases cannot meet the supply air heating criteria of the Passive House Standard in every climate zone of the United States. It shows that the simulated building cannot be optimized to fulfill the functional definition of passive house or the intended passive house criteria using low energy building materials and techniques. Test cases were generated for a specific climate data location. These cases were also analyzed for 1000 additional data sets to determine trends and results for multiple locations. This process demonstrated the effect of specific climate characteristics, such as temperature and radiation, on the passive house energy metrics and the corresponding increases and decreases in energy use. While a passive house can be defined by its ability to provide space conditioning through the supply air, the current Passive House Standard relies on four specific energy efficiency criteria to certify projects throughout the world. These four criteria must be met in order to be a certified passive house. These values: an Annual Space Heat Demand of 4.75 kBTU/ft2yr (15 kWh/m2a), a Peak Heating Load of 3.17 BTU/ft2hr (10 W/m2), an Annual Cooling Demand of 4.75 kBTU/ft2yr (15 kWh/m2a), and an Annual Primary (Source) Energy Demand of 38 kBTU/ft2yr (120 kWh/m2a) set a firm and stringent baseline measurement in most climates. However, for some climates, these numbers are simply unachievable. Even in climates where the certification criteria are achievable, including the vast majority of climate zones in the United States, supply air space conditioning is still not a realistic possibility. Because the climate conditions in the United States are diverse, a precise adjustment is needed based on a project’s exact location. Any adaptation of the Passive House Standard to many different climates needs to be customizable. To maintain precision between the climates, this thesis analyzes the simulated data for each passive house criteria against the data from within each climate set including temperature, radiation, dew point, and sky temperature. The analysis resulted in adjusted passive house criteria that were achievable for a specific climate data set's location. In this way, this thesis proposes a method for generating custom certification criteria for existing climate data sets in the United States, while also creating a repeatable method to be used in defining the adjusted passive house criteria for any location.
Issue Date:2014-01-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Ryan Michael Abendroth
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-01-16
Date Deposited:2013-12

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