Passive House Ain't Passive

I love our world with all its beauty, quirks, and oddities. I also love living by the water, where I can marvel at the balance and power of nature. But humans have fought to control nature for as long as we have lived in it, and we’re losing.

I was born, raised, and educated in The Netherlands, where climate and sustainability are an integral part of daily life. That can happen when living below sea level, seeing windmills all over the place, and cycling everywhere. Growing up, the German environmentally-friendly “PassivHaus” concept was a normal part of life.

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At Centerbrook, I worked on the Schiller Coastal Studies Center at Bowdoin College, which we designed to U.S. Passive House standards. That experience spurred me to get certified by the Passive House Alliance so I could promote the green building solutions we used. Now that I am certified, I am helping the office streamline design and construction with a live building energy model. And, by extension, I’m impacting the future that my 5-year-old son, and my country, will inhabit.

I eagerly share Passive House concepts with my colleagues. They’re simple: reduce the energy a building leaks out, re-use what you already put into it, supplement it with renewable energy sources, and save money and the environment. The trick? Persuading others of the benefits so they get fired up and become evangelists for Passive House projects.

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A high-quality building envelope – the core Passive House concept – can greatly reduce energy costs, or even cut them to zero, while increasing occupant comfort. When I tell my friends this, they're amazed because they are used to living in leaky, poorly insulated homes. When I design my dream house, it will be a Passive House!

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I lead a design workshop as an adjunct professor in the Architectural Studies Program at Connecticut College. There I can make an even greater impact – advancing environmental justice and inspiring the next generation to achieve more resilient buildings.

Architects are catalysts for change. Let's make it happen!