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Predesign, Site and Planning




- Are there alternatives to building a new building? Can existing buildings be reused?


> Because of the thermal bridging that is typical in most existing structures, and the complex exterior geometry of many buildings, it is difficult if not impossible to renovate existing buildings to meet the Passive House standard. While there can be a lot of "embodied energy" in an existing building structure -- the energy it took to create it in the first place -- a new Passive House building can be far more energy-economic over time than a renovated existing building, as up to 90% of the energy a building will use in its lifetime will be used after the building is first completed. On the other hand, an existing building might have real heritage value, which in a way may trump the energy argument. You may not be able to rebuild it into a Passive House, but you can almost always significantly improve on a heritage building's energy performance.




Site and Planning


- Plan to take full advantage of solar resources for heat, cooling and daylighting


- Plan to minimize negative neighborhood effects of wind and shadow, while considering potential use of wind resources


- Consider use of ground-source heat


- Plan for collection and storage of a wide variety of recyclables as well as for organic and inorganic wastes; throughout building have a plan for placement of receptacles


- Plan for green roofs, which will protect your roof membrane and cool your building


- Plan for rainwater capture and use.


- Consider permeable paving; design paved areas to minimize use of de-icing chemicals


- Plan for bicycle storage


- Consider pedestrian comfort


- Plan for the life cycle and for accessibility


- Use native plants and locally produced materials that do not require high maintenance. Synthetic materials should be biodegradeable


- Assess opportunities to treat some of the wastewater being created in your building onsite


- Employ light fixtures that minimize light spill into the sky


- Plan so that all residents have access to the natural environment, but also that natural areas are protected


- Use plants that will create habitat for animals


- New commercial spaces should be planned for future conversion to other uses


- Transit stops, commercial spaces and other services should be located within walking or easy biking distance of housing


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