First Advisor

David Sailor

Date of Publication

Winter 1-8-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical and Materials Engineering




Sustainable buildings -- Oregon -- Portland -- Design and construction, Ecological houses -- West (U.S.), Heat recovery -- Research, Hot-water heating -- Equipment and supplies -- Environmental aspects, Heat pumps -- Environmental aspects



Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 58 pages)


Due to rising energy costs and concerns about global climate change, high performance buildings are more in demand than ever before. With roughly 20% of the total energy consumption in the United States being devoted to residential use, this sector represents a significant opportunity for future savings. There are many guidelines and standards for reducing building energy consumption. One of the most stringent is the Passive House Standard. The standard requires that that air infiltration is less than or equal to 0.6 air changes per hour at a 50 Pascal pressure difference (ACH 50), annual heating energy is less than or equal to 15kWh/m2, and total annual source energy is less than or equal to 120 kWh/m2. For comparison, the typical West coast US residence has an ACH50 of 5 and annually uses more than 174 kWh/m2 of source energy according to the 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey. With these challenging requirements, successful implementation of the Passive House Standard requires effective strategies to substantially reduce energy consumption for all end uses.

Heating and cooling loads are low by necessity in a Passive House. As such this makes end uses like water heating a much larger fraction of total energy use than they would be in a typical building. When air to water heat pumps are employed the energy consumption by water heating is lowered significantly. By employing innovative heat recovery strategies the energy consumption for water heating and HVAC can be reduced even further. This study uses energy modeling and project cost analysis to evaluate three innovative control strategies. Results for a Passive House in Portland Oregon show a savings of about $70 annually with a payback period of 10 years. The same Passive House in Fairbanks Alaska with a different strategy would save $150 annually with a payback period of 5 years.


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