Windows in Passive House Construction


Based on analysis of Passive House window specifications, and installation photos from architects, engineers, and manufacturers, create a publication of window details for Passive House certified projects.


Passive House (PH) construction achieves its remarkable energy performance results via five main strategies: high insulation, air-tight construction, thermal bridge-free construction, energy recovery ventilation, and PH windows.  Of these strategies, arguably the one most difficult to achieve in the design and construction of PH projects is the achievement of optimal windows. PH window-to-wall junctions must be precise to create an effective weather barrier. The windows must be designed to admit light and heat, and also to lend significant esthetic value to the building. 

This project aims to make PH window strategies more accessible to architects, engineers, and tradespersons. The goal is to create a catalog of PH window details used on projects in the United States.  Members of the team will solicit details, product specifications, and installation photos from architects, engineers, and manufacturers for certified PH projects, including analysis modeling data. Drawings would be put into a consistent format. Modeling would be normalized across all details (standardization of U-values for materials, etc.). Details would be categorized by type of construction (wood frame, steel frame, masonry, historic masonry, etc.), and cross-referenced to window material. The goal is a normalized and comparative analysis within and across construction types. Potentially, the project results could lead to PH certified assemblies. The project might conceivably involve work with the Passive House Institute.

Suggested Approaches

  1. Conduct background research into window design for passive house construction.
  2. Solicit window details and analysis from architects and engineers.
  3. Produce drawings in a consistent format and style.
  4. Carry out analyses in THERM, and possibly WUFI, to model two-dimensional heat-transfer and moisture transfer effects in windows.
  5. For each window installation, publish the analysis and final information needed for input into the PHPP (Passive House Planning Package software).
  6. Prepare the final format for publication, possibly assembled as downloadable CAD files.

Pre-requisities/Ideal Team

Students participating in this capstone should have architecture or engineering backgrounds, as well as experience in architectural graphics: AutoCAD or a similar DWG format drawing program, and 3D drawing. THERM, PHPP, and other analysis tools would be learned for the project.