Webinar 3: First US Passive House Retrofit - O'Neill
The PH Approach to Deep Energy Reductions


Homeowner Cathy O’Neill wanted a retirement home that set a benchmark for energy efficiency, but she also wanted it to be beautiful, warm, and welcoming. Builder Rick Milburn of PassivWorks, together with architect Jarrod Denton of Signum Architecture and Passive House Consultant Graham Irwin of Essential Habitat transformed a run-down and dated 1960s house in the City of Sonoma into California’s first certified Passive House (Passivhaus) and the first certified Passive House retrofit in the US.

This webinar will explore the methodology and process of the team, the details of the project, and a comparison of modeled to monitored performance. The applicability of Passive House for California will be described, along with lessons learned and efforts by the team to make this approach easier, cheaper, and better.

By participating in this webinar, attendees will

  1. Have a better understanding of the construction practices deployed to achieve the energy, comfort, and durability performance required of certified Passive House projects
  2. Learn about the energy performance results of this project, and how it compares with the OPTION B threshold for the Thousand Home Challenge and current building code
  3. Hear insights from the team members into the efficacy of the measures employed and possibilities for additional cost-optimization in future projects


Graham Irwin, Presenter

Graham Irwin, CPBD, CGBP, LEED AP, certified passive house consultant, has been working in the construction industry since 1991. Long committed to sustainability, he was one of the first passive house consultants trained in the U.S. Graham's firm, Essential Habitat, provides design assistance to architects, builders, and homeowners with an emphasis on passive house methodology.

Rick Milburn, Presenter

Rick Milburn, owner of PassivWorks, Inc., is the first builder in California to become a Certified Passive House Consultant, the first to complete a Certified Passive House in California and the first to complete a Certified Passive House Retrofit in the United States. Passive House is a simple process of achieving the goal of "Better Buildings".

Don Fugler, Respondent

Don Fugler was trained as a mechanical engineer and spent 25 years doing housing research for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). He managed research projects on topics such as combustion spillage, home energy use, wet basements, ventilation, indoor air quality, contaminated lands, and straw bale housing. One of his last projects was the performance monitoring of the CMHC EQuilibrium homes, houses designed to be net zero and healthy. He retired from CMHC in 2011, and currently undertakes contract research into ventilation, IAQ, energy retrofitting, and other issues.

Gary Klein, Respondent

Gary Klein has been intimately involved in energy efficiency and renewable energy since 1973. His firm, Affiliated International Management LLC, provides consulting on sustainability through their international team of affiliates. At present, the focus is on water-energy-carbon footprint issues with a particular emphasis on hot water.