Passive House Asthma Mitigation by Optimizing Unique Building Systems (PHAMOUS)

Project Funder:U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Project Partners: Tohn Environmental Strategies; New Ecology, Inc. (NEI); Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc. (POAH); Homeowners Rehab, Inc. (HRI); Beacon Communities

Project Contact: Jonathan Wilson,, 443.539.4162

What we’re studying: The study will determine if breathable particulate (PM2.5) levels, and, by extension, asthma triggers, are lower in new multifamily affordable housing built to the Passive House (PH group) versus conventional energy efficiency (control group) standards. The Passive House standard combines a tight building envelope with a balanced, filtered ventilation system to achieve rigorous energy efficiency performance. Conventional energy efficiency standards typically have exhaust-only ventilation using kitchen or bathroom fans. The study will also compare PM2.5 levels in PH group housing vs. hybrid group housing expected to have the tightness of control group housing and the balanced ventilation of PH group housing.

Why it matters: The expected, practical study outcome is that housing agencies and funders will recognize the co-benefits of Passive House design (on top of the energy efficiency/climate change resistance benefits) and incentivize Passive House construction in their housing financing programs.

Project Description

POAH, HRI, and Beacon Communities will recruit and enroll 170 dwellings (85 each in the PH group and control group), plus 40 homes in the hybrid group. In each of these dwellings, NEI will complete performance testing and install air quality sensors. These sensors will collect PM2.5, temperature, relative humidity, and carbon dioxide data for a one-year period. One adult per dwelling will also fill out a quarterly household activity survey to document factors that may affect air quality, including cooking, cleaning, and use of ventilation.

NCHH will assemble an advisory committee composed of experts in affordable housing development, ventilation and building performance who will provide advice and feedback on the study design and periodically review incoming data.


This is a new study. We’ll post resources here as they become available.


Latest page update: April 28, 2022.