Structure is everything in construction, which is why building codes and standards are so important. You can think of building codes and standards like an outline – an outline on which contractors can build a home, office building or commercial space. When it comes to energy efficiency, these codes and standards are even more vital. As the world is becoming more cognizant of rapid global warming and its effects, governments are stepping in with solutions. One of those solutions is greener homes and two major standards are leading the way: passive and LEED. Both have their unique benefits and disadvantages, but which one is right for you?
Passive standard, or passive house as it is sometimes called, is an exceedingly demanding building standard for design and construction of homes and office spaces, which ensures maximum energy efficiency. One of the main goals of passive house is to severely limit the reliance on heating and air conditioning systems. Passive house requires numerous architectural limitations to ensure maximum efficiency, like the materials used and even making room for more insulation. In a passive house, the standard also ensures the perfect humidity levels and optimum indoor air quality.
On the other side of the spectrum is the LEED standard, which is typically the “green” standard for builders across the world. Compared to passive house, LEED, which stands for “leadership in energy and environmental design,” is much more relaxed in terms of architectural choice, but has a number of protocols as to how builders can build and what materials they can build with. Also, the standard politely forces occupants of the building to take certain measures to make more green life choices. Since the standard’s release in 1998, LEED has quickly become the leading standard for energy efficient home and structure building.
However, knowing if the passive or LEED standard is right for you goes beyond knowing what each standard is. While both can make your home or office space vastly more energy efficient, both have their unique advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of passive house is that it is extremely energy efficient – at almost 60% – mainly due to the limited reliance on heating and air conditioning. You can forget about the R-22 refrigerant phase out or worrying about what refrigerant you are going to use for your air conditioning system, because many passive houses don’t have one. On the other side of the coin, the LEED standard is a little more relaxed when it comes to heating and air conditioning, which is probably why it is only 30% more efficient, which is a huge leap, but not compared to passive house.
Lastly, if you are thinking about building a home or office space according to the passive or LEED standards, there are a number of considerations to make. One of the biggest considerations is deciding how serious you are about saving energy and money. Also, you have to look at your budget. Both passive and LEED homes are expensive to build, but in the long run, you should be able to recoup those costs in only a few years. Also, your carbon footprint will be kept at a minimum, which is surely something to be proud of.