New Residence Hall on Track for Passive House Certification

Construction workers completing air test on window in Portland residence hall.

The University of Southern Maine’s new residence hall being built on the Portland campus recently passed its first test toward becoming a Passive House building. Passive House is one of the most aggressive green building standards in the world. The Passive House standard calls for state-of-the-art energy efficiency performance, along with high indoor air quality. A structure built to this standard must have a tight building envelope, preventing the loss of heating or cooling.

The construction team recently tested a window and surrounding wall panel being installed to make sure that they were as tight as required for the standard. This air passivity test involves blocking off the window and immediate area with plastic and running a fan to see how much air passes through. The target for the test was four cfm (cubic feet per minute) or lower. We achieved a one, which is three times better than the minimum required. The test ensures that we are on track toward achieving this rigorous building certification system.

The University of Southern Maine residence hall is on track to be the second largest Passive House building at a university in the United States.