Energy efficiency is a top priority for many homeowners today, as we are seeing the rise of such trends as net zero and passive housing. Now, more organizations are spurring passive housing, which is a set of building standards that creates comfortable and healthy structures yet consume very little energy.
There are many ways to achieve passive housing, including airtightness, above-code thermal insulation, mechanical ventilation heat recovery, high performance windows, and thermal bridge-free construction, as just a few examples.
For this column, let’s explore one specific instance of passive housing in the Chicagoland area. Preservation of Affordable Housing has closed on the financing for a large multifamily residential passive housing building. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to preserve and steward sustainable affordable housing for low-to-moderate income individuals and families.
The City of Chicago provided the bulk of the financing for the development in the form of TIF (Tax Increment Financing) and HOME Investment Partnership Program assistance, new sales tax bonds, 4% LIHTC (Low Income Housing Tax Credits), and tax-exempt bonds.
The passive housing project also benefits from ComEd’s Passive House new construction grant, Illinois Solar for All incentives, and a grant from the SPARCC (Strong, Prosperous, and Resilient Communities Challenge) to support equitable retail development.
Construction began in early June and the building has 43 units with the intent to mitigate climate change. In this case, some of the features include native landscaping, water-saving plumbing fixtures, stormwater retention, insulated roofs, walls, and windows, composting and recycling facilities, and efficient heating and cooling systems.
Preservation of Affordable Housing is interested in sharing its successes to spur other sustainable building designs in the future. There are certainly many ways to achieve passive housing—and this is just one instance.
Solar is another great way to achieve passive housing. A rooftop array of solar panels will offset a significant part of the all-electric building’s energy load covering more than 50% of the total building’s electricity needs and 75% of the owner-paid electricity costs.
There are many reasons a homeowner may be spurred to consider a passive home as an option—long-term financial savings, energy independence, or simply helping to reduce the impacts of climate change, just to name a few.
The bottomline is the technology, materials, and processes are advancing to enable more options for homeowners. Passive housing is certainly one trend to keep an eye on in the days ahead, as we see a greater focus on sustainability for all.
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