The Passive House guidelines are the best benchmark I know of right now for building a house. According to the Passive House Planning Package, there is no requirement that a house be designed by an official Passive House Consultant.
The main requirements are:
1) Maximum of 15 kWh/(m^2a) heat load
2) Maximum of 0.6 ACH(50) air leakage
3) Maximum of 120 kWh/(m^2a) total energy demand.
‘Passivhaus’ is the German original term. Translated into English as ‘Passive House’ it should not be confused with ‘Passive Solar House’. This is not the implication intended of a Passive House, rather that it is a house without traditional active heating systems. (and even that term is becoming an ever more slippery concept.)
Brooklyn green brownstones can easily meet the Passive House standards. Our company is very interested in Passive House techniques specific for a Brooklyn Brownstone. The green show house is loosely based along Passive House standards. We aren’t there yet….but our next green Brownstone renovation will definitely exceed Passive House standards.