PNC SmartHome becomes the first Ohio building to reach Passive House certification

PNC SmartHome becomes the first Ohio building to reach Passive House certification

PNC SmartHome Cleveland, a project of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, has become the first building in Ohio to achieve passive house certification, the world’s most rigorous building energy standard.

The certification was approved in June by the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS), the nonprofit organization committed to making high-performance passive buildings the mainstream market standard in the United States.

Passive house certification is based on some of the world’s most rigorous energy performance standards for residential buildings. This accomplishment reflects the hard work and creative talent of both Museum staff and our many partners—this was a true community project,” said Evalyn Gates, Ph.D., executive director and CEO of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History. “The PNC SmartHome is a landmark green building for Cleveland, as well as a wonderful demonstration of how smart design can create a home that is beautiful, functional and inspirational.”    

Passive house certification, which is common in Europe but new in the United States, is based on the design of the house—the physics of the construction, insulation, windows and solar orientation for heat gain in cold weather. The design must meet three performance tests: Energy use for heating and cooling, total energy use for all needs, and building air tightness as measured by a blower door test. When properly designed and constructed, passive buildings use 60 to 80 percent less energy than comparable conventional buildings.

PNC SmartHome Cleveland was originally built as an exhibit next to the Museum in early 2011. PNC was the presenting sponsor of the exhibit. It was moved to its permanent site at 11601 Wade Park Ave. in October 2011 and installed on an insulated basement foundation. The Museum sold the home in 2012 but continued working with the new owners to further improve the energy efficiency of the house and complete the passive house certification process.

“We feel very lucky to have the opportunity to live in the SmartHome,” said homeowners Jocelyn and Martin Schaffer. “We have felt completely comfortable in the home in every season of the past year—proving that a passive house can function perfectly in Cleveland’s chilly winters and warm summers, without a traditional furnace or air conditioner. We hope that the house will continue to educate not only those who toured it as an exhibit at the Museum of Natural History, but those who continue to read and learn about smart building techniques. We appreciate the vision, planning, expertise and generosity of everyone involved in the construction of the house. Their work to build a passive house and to encourage others to use passive house design principles will help to protect the environment for us all."

Read more about Great Green Homes.


Topics: Energy Audits, GREAT GREEN HOMES, Passive House


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