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When my wife and I started to look into building a passive house we - by chance - also heard an interesting radio story on NPR about such a house built out of straw in Southern California and also saw a documentary in the German children TV show "Die Sendung mit der Maus". I found the documentary on youtube:
Although it is in German, you will find several videos in your language, e.g., English, by searching for "passive house".
In Germany, the Passivhaus-Institut is trying to set and coordinate standards, provide help and research technologies. It also offers information in English. In the US there is now a Passive House Institute US. In addition to information material it also has contact data for Certified Passive House Consultants all over the US.
A passive house combines several technologies to reduce energy consumption. So it is a good idea to learn about those components individually:
- solar panels are used to either heat water or to produce power
- ventilation systems with heat recovery are in place to allow constant ventilation while preserving energy in the Winter and helping to keep the inside cooler in the Summer
- in many houses a heat pump is used for heating and warm water
- windows have to be of good quality and should be constructed such that they let sunshine in during the Winter and are covered by shade in the Summer