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“The first dozen or so attempts to build net-zero [homes] in Oregon fell short because they missed the mark on efficiency and performance,” says Sam Hagerman, co-owner of Hammer & Hand and president of the Passive House Alliance US. “Had these first buildings adhered to the Passive House energy standard, most of them would have met their net zero goals.

“I wouldn’t disagree that net-zero or the Living Building Challenge are worthy, it’s just that I see Passive House as the most sensible and effective gas pedal to reach their energy performance goals,” he continues. “Alternative energy is expensive. Insulation is cheap.”