Over the past year dasHAUS, a German-designed demonstration pavilion that demonstrates German Passive House design standards—which include photovoltaics and passive solar aspects, like external louvers and triple-paned windows—has toured across North America. Yesterday, it made its 12th and final stop at Denver’s Sustainability Park, where it was warmly received by an intimate crowd.
Germany’s Passive House designs have significantly reduced the amount of energy a home needs to be comfortably livable, using insulation and other elements. As such, energy needs for such homes are significantly reduced. That means solar arrays for such homes can be made smaller, saving the homeowner even more money. The design standards are gaining popularity in the U.S., in places like Maine and New Hampshire. And though Colorado only has a few homes designed with the standards in mind, at least eight homes in the Denver/Front Range region are now being built to the standard, said Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES) Executive Director Lorrie McCallister, speaking at the opening ceremony.
“The pavilion that you see before you is based on Germany's 2007, 2009 first-place entries in the Solar Decathlon,” said Mark Tomkins, vice president of the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest. “Many of you probably know Boulder won the competitions right before that so we have a very tight tie to Colorado. But this pavilion demonstrates really in a hands-on fashion the innovative technologies that made those entries to the Solar Decathlon so successful.”
Tomkins noted that the inspiration for Germany’s Passive House Design actually had roots in Colorado. “In a lot of ways it's a return home for DasHaus. The ideas that were here for high-performance buildings that Germany's really implemented over the last three decades have their roots here in Colorado,” he said. Among other things, the super-insulated buildings in Colorado, from the 70s and 80s were inspiration for the standard. The demonstration unit’s Passive House rooms had an R-value of 78, meaning they were super-insulated and outside temperatures have very little effect on them.
Dr. Bernd Fischer, consul general of the German Consulate General Los Angeles, explained that the standards, which are coming to the U.S. through the Passive House Alliance, were designed for Germany’s fluctuating temperatures, which he likened to Colorado’s weather extremes, which can range over a 40 degree spectrum within a day’s period. “It only works if you also save energy. Savings and production is the keyword,” he said.
DasHAUS is on display in Denver through Oct. 23. It’s open to public at the Denver’s Sustainability Park, and a series of events are being hosted on a daily basis to showcase the technologies and designs.