Digital edition 2021 | Innovation & Sustainability

Passive House Los Angeles

United StatesUnited StatesCompany Name: Christian Kienapfel

Project description

Passive House Los Angeles (PHLA+) is the first newly built “Certified Passive House” in Los Angeles close to the Los Angeles international airport and Beverly Hills. “Passive House” is a fast growing international building construction performance standard combining comfort with very low energy consumption and at the same time providing a high indoor air quality. It is strategically planned to showcase the technologies and benefits of the “Passive House Standard”, including home health, efficient energy use, and sustainable building practices. With those attributes, this makes PHLA+ a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) home. The project aims to educate potential owners about the benefits of Passive House design, emphasizing energy cost savings and quantifiable home health benefits based on actual performance.


Christian Kienapfel

Born in West-Berlin and raised in Germany, Christian Kienapfel received his Master of Architecture degree from the University of Applied Sciences in Cottbus. Christian came to the U.S. as a Fulbright Scholar and received a Master Degree in Architecture from Virginia Tech. He is member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), LEED AP and a licensed architect in Germany and in California. Christian has over 20 years of international experience in the architectural profession with the planning of various building types in the U.S., Germany, Italy, Malaysia and Costa Rica, including commercial buildings, theaters, high-rise construction, religious & community projects as well single and multi-family residential buildings. He has taught architecture, hospitality/interior design studios and been invited as guest lecturer at various international conferences. Christian Kienapfel is a Certified Passive House Designer (CPHD) and serves as a board member of Passive House California (PHCA). Christian is the architect of Passive House LA (PHLA+) one of the first new construction Passive Houses in Southern California.

Acoustic insulation
Acoustical performance and sound absorption was a critical requirement for this project, and was achieved in part with SilentFX® Quickcut™ drywall.
Superior aesthetic and design
NO-COAT® Corners and CertainTeed Joint Compound were used to achieve the Level 4 Finish that complements the sleek, contemporary home design.
Indoor air quality
AirRenew® drywall was used to offset air tightness performance requirements (max 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals pressure).

Key Achievements

  • Passive House Certification was achieved for the home. This was the primary goal of the home, which was used as a showcase home by the architect.
  • Passive House Los Angeles received recognition by the American Institute of Architecture and was honored with the Cote Merit Award.

Key Challenges

Passive House certification – North American building scientists and builders with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Canadian government were the first to pioneer passive building principles in the 1970s.

In cooperation with Building Science Corporation under a U.S. DOE Building America Grant, the PHIUS Technical Committee developed passive building standards that account for the broad range of climate conditions, market conditions, and other variables in North American climate zones. The result is the PHIUS+ 2015 Passive Building Standard – North America, which was released in March of 2015.

Contemporary Design – The contemporary design applies modern drywall materials contributing to achieving indoor air quality and acoustic performance design requirements, which are key components of part of Passive House performance standards.


Building owner:
Christian Kienapfel
Christian Kienapfel, Paravant Architects
Main contractor:
Christian Keinapfel
Mike Brenesell
Saint-Gobain Team:
Ron Wollard, Territory Manager US, CertainTeed; Steve Hawkins, Vice President of Sales US, CertainTeed