The First Passive House Comes to DC

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Rather than wait on the sidelines for a buyer Peabody Architects of Alexandria has teamed up with O’Neil Development of Gaithersburg to bring the first Passive House to the DC area, building on speculation that a buyer will come. Personally, I love that they are doing this and I believe that their visioneering will pay off in the end. I sat down with the folks of Peabody Architects nearly two years ago to discuss their vision, and to find out what they were excited about. In Bethesda the object of their enthusiasm is becoming a reality.

A passive house, or Passivhaus (German), is a concept that comes out of Europe, where approximately 25,000 such homes and buildings have been constructed, versus just 13 in the U.S. In brief a passive house will typically have a construction cost of about 5-8% more than conventional construction, but use about 10% of the energy.

Estimates for this passive house in Bethesda run at about 4-5% higher than building the same home via conventional construction methods. The energy savings for the passive house in Bethesda are estimated to end up around $520 per month, which will offset any increase in the monthly mortgage payment. On top of that, there may be Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEM’s) out there that could increase monthly savings even further.

Ever the curious one, I asked Laura Campbell of Peabody Architects whether this 4-5% estimated increase in construction costs factors in tax credits and government subsidies. She stated that the estimates are straight forward, apples to apples estimates, and do not include such incentives. To be completely honest, I am not sure how claiming tax credits on an already constructed home as a buyer would work, or if it does. However, you have some potential front end savings there as well assuming you could claim them.

In conclusion; a passive house does not only address energy consumption, but also air quality and overall comfort, creating an ideal living environment. One can only hope that this project will serve as the ice breaker that allows the passive house concept to pick up steam not only in the DC area, but throughout the entire U.S.

Peabody Architects

Passive House DC Blog

O’Neil Development

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