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A snapshot of a PHIUS+ Certification for passive house projects

May 31, 2012

John Semmelhack here. I’m a Certified Passive House Consultant and Passive House Alliance US board member. I’m also a certified HERS® rater. I’ve been consulting with Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS) on the PHIUS+ certification program and training for HERS® Raters.

There are four big benefits to the PHIUS+ program that we think make the program a “win-win-win” for project teams, building owners and PHIUS, and we want to spread the word…

1)  Preliminary Certification Review – PHIUS conducts a review of drawings and the energy modelprior to construction. After receiving feedback from PHIUS and making any necessary adjustments to the energy model, project teams can be confident that their projects will achieve certification once they are built.

2)  Third Party Quality Assurance – The third party quality assurance program helps assure PHIUS that the buildings will live up to the high expectations of the Passive House standard. In addition, third-party quality assurance is almost always required for government and utility incentive programs. There’s nothing like having a set of independent, objective and experienced eyes on a construction site. The PHIUS+ Raters are veteran HERS® Raters who have gone through the 2-day PHIUS+ Rater training course. Their main job over several site visits is to ensure (from a building science and energy efficiency perspective) that what gets drawn is what gets built. This runs the gamut from insulation, windows and thermal bridge inspections to performance testing for air-tightness and ventilation balancing, and verification of installed HVAC equipment, lighting and appliances.

3)  Qualifying for Incentives – The majority of “whole-house” energy efficiency incentive programs require a HERS® Index below a certain threshold to qualify for the incentive. Since each PHIUS+ project receives a HERS® Index, the PHIUS+ program streamlines the process for obtaining government and utility incentives for your buildings. The PHIUS+ Rater will work with the project team to ensure all available incentive programs are identified and documentation in order.

4)  “Mainstreaming” Passive House – Passive House is currently a niche market within the niche market of energy efficient buildings in North America….but we don’t want it to remain that way! The PHIUS partnership with RESNET aligns Passive House with the most widely used energy rating system for houses and multi-family buildings in North America. This partnership will bring more Passive House exposure to homeowners, builders, design professionals and energy efficiency professionals across the country.

Always interested in your feedback–just post any comments, questions, etc. under Comments and I’ll do my best to respond in a timely fashion.

Thanks for reading!