Check out the 4-part Thousand Home Challenge webinar series featuring California projects. All webinars are archived and can be viewed at any time.

WEBINAR 1: Do Deep Energy Retrofits Achieve Deep Energy Reductions?
LBNL Monitored Results of 10 California Case Studies
PRESENTERS: Jeremy Fisher & Brennan Less
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 10-11:30 AM (Pacific Time)

WEBINAR 2 in a Series: First CA Home to Meet the THC - Beeler
Phased Reductions Include Seismic Retrofit
PRESENTER: George Beeler
Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - 10-11:30 AM (Pacific Time)

WEBINAR 3: First US Passive House Retrofit - O'Neill
The PH Approach to Deep Energy Reductions
PRESENTERS: Graham Irwin & Rick Milburn
Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - 10-11:30 AM (Pacific Time)

WEBINAR 4: Second Home to Meet the THC in CA - Bergamaschi, Focus on Baseloads, PV, & Occupant Behavior
PRESENTERS: Frank Bergamaschi & Rick Chitwood
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 - 10-11:30 AM (Pacific Time)

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Replies to This Discussion

If you missed the first 2 webinars, they are archived on the Thousand Home Challenge website.  Here are the link to view the archives, or to register for an upcoming webinar:


I think these webinars convey that there are many different paths to deep reductions, but simultaneously deep reductions can be elusive. It is critically important to build in feedback loops to learn from our investments, and to build a body of knowledge that make it easier for others to follow.  And, it just so happens - that is what the Thousand Home Challenge is all about!


I welcome your questions and observations regarding the webinars, and the projects described.

 Here are questions that came up during the third webinar, May 2, 2012 First US Passive House Retrofit - O’Neill: The PH Approach to Deep Energy Reductions. In many cases additional relevant info was addressed during the webinar.  In those cases, that is indicated.  The questions are organized in four groups: access to resources; product selection/construction techniques; IAQ/moisture/durability; and cost and performance. Feel free to add questions or comments!



Q: Where can we go to get updated information on the O'Neill project?

A: [Linda Wigington] Information, including a master's thesis by Jeremy Fisher, and recent presentations on the LBNL 10-house monitoring study are posted on our website, under Webinar 1:

Q: What was that hot water conference that Gary referred to last week?   [more explanation in webinar recording]

A:  [Gary Klein] - look for the Hot Water Forum; the conference is in Berkeley, May 21-22, 2012; 150 - 200 geeks who are passionate about water heating. It is the best place in the country to learn more about water heating.

[Gary Klein] I will submit two articles to Linda to post from Solar Age that address water heating.


Q: Where can we go to get information on Passive House and the technical stuff you are doing?  [more explanation in webinar recording]

A: [Graham Irwin] Come to the California ACI conference

, there will be tons of Passive House stuff there.  I will also be doing a class for PG&E in June. Check the PG&E website,

Here are some other resources: Passive House Institute, US (PHIUS)

Passive House Alliance (PHA)

Passivhaus Insititut   (PHI) (click on ...

Passive House Alliance (PHA)

Passivhaus Insititut (PHI) (click on 'English')

International Passive House Association (iPHA)




Q: Were the windows purchased American made, if not what affected decisions?  [more explanation in webinar recording]

A: [Graham Irwin] German windows purchased for high performance but also because of air tightness concerns. For US (NFRC) windows, air tightness performance reporting is OPTIONAL! There are US/Canadian windows that have worked for Passive House, but mostly since this project was undertaken (2009.)


Q: Are the double stud walls you have evolved to blown cellulose or some other insulating material?  [more explanation in webinar recording]

A: [Graham Irwin]  Blown-in, dense-packed cellulose or fiberglass


Q: Please clarify densepack cellulose installed at 1.8 lbs/cu.ft.  I understood 3.5 lbs/sq.ft. is the minimum.

A: Rick uses densepack fiberglass; the density for densepack cellulose is not the same as densepack cellulose.


Q: What happens when you need to service plumbing or electrical and you break that airtight skin?   [more explanation in webinar recording]

A: [Graham Irwin] Plumbing & electrical service is run in a chase inside the exterior wall, all plumbing and electrical penetrations were booted inside and out and foamed.


[B ill Turner comment]  Seisco electric tankless hot water backup is working great on my solar THC candidate.

[Graham Irwin]   Electric tankless modulates far better but has a ~3x source energy factor compared with natural gas.


Q: How do you account for stagnation of air flow, odors, moisture, and condensation in closed environment?  [more explanation in webinar recording]

A: [Graham Irwin]   The central ventilation system provides continuous air exchange (with heat recovery in winter) at a level that manages all of this. The air exchange level exceeds US (ASHRAE) standards and is generally higher than most typical houses without ventilation.


Q: With an exterior vapor barrier, ERV, and condensing dryer how is interior moisture controlled?

A: [Graham Irwin] See above. Condensing dryer condenses the moisture into liquid so it is not a big humidity load.


Q: Why was ERV used not an HRV?  [more explanation in webinar recording]

A: [Graham Irwin] At the time, the only unit available in the US that was efficient enough in terms of both heat recovery % and electrical use was an ERV. [more explanation in webinar recording]


Q: What ERV system was used?  [more explanation in webinar recording]

A: [Graham Irwin] UltimateAir RecoupAerator


Q: Why do you care if momentary fan use conflicts with the ERV or HRV?

A: [Graham Irwin] A central part of Passive House is the use of internal heat gains to warm the building in winter. Fan use that evacuates the house at levels larger than the ventilation system rate wastes this energy, messing with our "heat recycling."


Q: Heat recovery wheels tend to fail with time, how is it working so far?

A: [Graham Irwin] Rick can add to this, but, by all indications, quite well!


Q: I'm interested in more details on your heat recovery vent system. How, how deep, type of pipe, what about moisture in the pipe?

A: [Graham Irwin] No pipe, the climate is not extreme enough to justify this. The intake to the ERV came straight from the ambient air. My preference is actually for a "brine loop" as opposed to an "earth tube," which you describe:



Q: Where can we go to get updated information on the O'Neill project?

A: [Linda Wigington] Information, including a master's thesis by Jeremy Fisher, and recent presentations on the LBNL 10-house monitoring study is posted on our website:


Q: What were construction costs for the O'Neil house per sf?

A: [Graham Irwin] Rick knows this. 15% premium for Passive House.


Q: What program was used to do the energy modeling?

A: [Graham Irwin] PHPP - Passive House Planning Package


Q: What monitoring system have you found that is the best? [more explanation in webinar recording]

A: [Graham Irwin] I haven't used that many yet. This one is nice for electrical loads only, used in the O'Neill house

[Graham Irwin]  This is a great holistic approach of an affordable monitoring system.









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