Germany's first passive house in Darmstadt.
A passive house is a home that is designed specifically to have ultra-low requirements for space heating and cooling. The first known Passivhaus appeared in Darmstadt, Germany in 1990. The Passivhaus-Institut was created in Darmstadt in September 1996 to set standards for the passive home. Since then an estimated 25,000 of these homes were built in Austria and Germany as of 2010.
In general, a passive house requires a whopping 70-90% less energy than the standard home. The vast majority of passive homes appearing today are built in Scandanavia and German speaking countries. Homes can be built from scratch as a passive home or already existing homes can be upgraded to become passive homes as is happening here in Brooklyn. (Head over to Inhabitat New York City to see great photos of Brooklyn's first passive house.)
Passive homes use a mix of superinsulation, advanced window technology, airtightness, ventilation, passive solar design and landscape to achieve the level of reduction in energy usage for a home to meet the requirements to be considered a passive house. In addition, passive homes use daylighting, passive daylighting and active daylighting to keep energy requirements low.
Hopefully passive homes will be the future of all housing in New York and the rest of the U.S. and affordable for everyone searching for a home.
Also check out zero-energy building.