Making Passive House Mainstream – Details Matter
By Tad Everhart

Passive House Details: Solutions for High-Performance Design may do more to make Passive House mainstream residential building practice  than many other resources combined.

Consider that only a small percentage of builders may attend trade shows, advanced building trainings, or pick up a copy of Fine Homebuilding or Journal of Light Construction.  However, many conventional builders are scratching their head and wondering just exactly how to build these high-performance or “Passive House” walls, floors, and roofs.  And so are residential architects, engineers, and other designers.

Details shows them how.  With an emphasis on shows them.  

Pretty much everything that we learn we learn from someone else.  Not just in school, but also in business.  And as every parent knows, kids learn from watching us, not from listening to our words.

We learn from examples more readily than words.

In my legal career, I rarely created a contract from scratch with a blank slate and my imagination.  And law school doesn’t teach anything that practical.  Rather, I looked to see what other more experienced lawyers did.  And sometimes I simply copied their form or agreement.  And with experience, perhaps I sometimes improved on what they did.  However, when I started, the example was priceless.

The key is to show us, not tell us.  That’s how you get people started.

Details doesn’t tell you in words how to building a high performance residence; it shows you how.
Details gets you started.  Details enables any designer and builder who wants to achieve a Passive House to get there.

Separate chapters of details for foundations, floors, walls, roofs, and openings (for windows, doors, and MEP connections) guide you logically through a building.  Every detail is drawn perfectly with good use of color to identify separate elements (structural v. air barrier) and excellent captions.

Unlike other similar books that don’t always caption every element, these captions are complete.  Even better, every illustration is scaled, and dimensions are in both IP and SI units.  And photos on the facing page further illustrate the buildup.                  

When I picked up Details, I thought it was only a compendium of building assembly details.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the entire first chapter summarizes the process of designing high-performance envelopes.  Covering climate, site, the different assemblies and how they work together as a whole, and how to model heat and moisture in them gives the novice an excellent start.

Another delightful surprise: the last chapter is substantial, detailed case studies of 14 of the best Passive Houses in North America.  All 12 or more pages richly illustrated with photos and details, especially junction details.

With the authors, Donald Corner, Jan Fillinger, and Alison Kwok, as their guide, every residential designer or builder can create a Passive House.  

Details is easily worth hundreds of times the list price ($49.95 paper/$180 hardback), but if you order now directly from the publisher, Routledge, you’ll enjoy a 20% discount with the FLR40 discount code.