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Project Launch: 05/01/2019
Income Eligible
Complete

Partners: Slipstream, Latin United Community Housing Association

This project studied the energy savings and non-energy benefits of the Passive House standard in affordable new construction multi-family buildings.

Overview

This project examined the energy savings and non-energy benefits of the Passive House building standard for a multi-family building constructed and owned by Chicago-based affordable housing developer LUCHA (Latin United Community Housing Association). The building is one of the six buildings in LUCHA’s Tierra Linda housing development located in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood. The building was constructed and certified according to the Passive House Institute’s PHIUS+ building standard, which provides unique design and construction requirements with the goal of low energy consumption, including:

  • Continuous insulation throughout the building envelope to prevent thermal bridging
  • Triple-pane, low-E glass windows
  • Utilizing balanced heat- and moisture-recovery ventilation with air source heat pumps
  • Exploiting and minimizing solar gain strategically

Before construction was completed in late 2018, the project team embedded energy and air quality monitoring equipment throughout the Passive House building as well as a neighboring multi-family building constructed to ENERGY STAR® standards. The two buildings were monitored from November 2018 through October 2020 to examine and compare differences in energy consumption, operating costs and indoor air quality.

Results

  • The high-performance shell for the Passive House building created substantially lower seasonal heating loads.
  • The difference in cooling loads between the two buildings was not found to be statistically significant, but confounding factors including occupant behavior make space-cooling impacts difficult to assess.
  • Input energy for space conditioning is lower for the Passive House building due primarily to the greater efficiency of air source heat pumps.
  • Total site energy use is about one third less for the Passive House building.
  • Annual energy costs for the Passive House building are about 19% less than the ENERGY STAR building, mainly due to differences in utility rates.
  • There are no indications that indoor air quality in the Passive House building is significantly different than in the ENERGY STAR building.

Ultimately, the Passive House standard and certification provides design teams with a roadmap to achieve significant performance improvements beyond the conventional best practices seen in both ENERGY STAR multi-family building certification and the ComEd multi-family standard. Based on the results of this project, ComEd is further investigating integration of the Passive House standard as part of the Affordable Housing New Construction offering.

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