Passive House Certified buildings earn premium returns

Despite concerns that the apartment market is leveling off, ultra sustainable apartments that earn Passive House certification fetch a premium, especially when located in trendy walk-able areas. Witness the sale of the recent Kiln Apartments in North Portland profiled in this week’s Portland Business Journal article featuring SVN Bluestone’s multifamily advisor Steve Morris. Portland currently has two other Passive House certified multifamily structures, both constructed by PDX Living. One is located in the up and coming Montavilla neighborhood, and the other in already trendy Sunnyside. Birdsmouth Construction has pre-certified the Emerson St. house, still under development in NE Portland by Alberta St.

To earn Passive House certification, builders must follow strict efficiency guidelines. They must employ continuous insulation throughout the entire envelope of the building without any thermal bridging. The envelope must be airtight, preventing infiltration of outside air and loss of conditioned air. It must employ high performance windows and doors and use some form of balanced heat and moisture recover ventilation by using a minimal space conditioning system.  It also must manage solar exposure to exploit the sun for heating purposes in the winter and minimize it during the summer season.

If the popularity of sustainable housing continues to draw high returns, the Portland market may see more such structures in development soon.