Passive House, an innovative architectural movement established by the Passivhaus Institute in Darmstadt, Germany in 1996, has revolutionized the way we build environmentally friendly, comfortable, and affordable homes and buildings. By harnessing the power of natural elements such as sunshine, shading, and ventilation, the design minimizes the need for traditional heating and cooling systems, reducing energy consumption by an impressive 90 percent compared to a typical dwelling. This innovative approach prioritizes high levels of insulation and airtightness, ensuring that indoor temperatures remain consistent and comfortable. As a leading building standard, passive house has become a pioneering concept for constructing low-energy homes, demonstrating how design can work in harmony with nature to create a sustainable future for us all.
Passive House buildings offer an unparalleled level of indoor comfort, maintaining consistent temperatures and ensuring excellent air quality. In addition, their high levels of insulation mean that they reduce both external and internal noise, providing a serene oasis of peace and tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life. These buildings are also renowned for their remarkable energy efficiency, boasting heating and cooling related energy savings of up to 90% compared to typical building stock and over 75% compared to average new builds. In fact, these buildings use less than 1.5 litres of heating oil per square meter of living space per year, far less than other low-energy buildings.
The design incorporates intelligent features such as using the body heat of residents and solar energy to help regulate temperature, while appropriate windows and a well-insulated building shell ensure that heat is retained in winter and kept out during summer. A superior ventilation system guarantees fresh, clean air without any unwanted draughts, improving air quality and the overall health of occupants. These buildings are also effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, making a significant contribution to mitigating the effects of climate change.
With their impressive energy savings and commitment to sustainability, these buildings represent the future of architecture and design, demonstrating how environmentally conscious design can be both aesthetically pleasing and practical.
The Five Principles of Passive House Construction
Thinking of building a passive house? Maria and Todd of IdS/R Architecture pinpoint the essential five principles of construction in these diagrams.
Working of a Passive House
Passive House is the reigning champion in energy-efficient construction, boasting an impressive 90% reduction in energy usage compared to typical Central European buildings. In fact, these houses require only 10% of the energy consumed by their less efficient counterparts, making their owners practically immune to the ups and downs of energy prices.
One of the secrets to this energy efficiency is the requirement that Passive Houses use less than 15 kWh/(m²yr) for heating or cooling, and limit the heating/cooling load to a maximum of 10 W/m2. Additionally, conventional primary energy usage may not exceed 120 kWh/(m²a), with a future goal of achieving renewable energy supply (PER) with no more than 60 kWh/(m²a). Achieving these targets is a breeze for Passive Houses.
These houses must be airtight, with air change rates limited to n50 = 0.6/h. This ensures that the indoor environment remains comfortable and healthy, without wasting energy by exchanging too much air. In warmer climates and during summer months, excessive temperatures must not occur more than 10% of the time to maintain an ideal indoor climate.
A passive house is a sustainable building idea that offers both economical, high-quality structures and cosy, healthful living spaces. Also, its tenets are simple to comprehend.
As more recent structures become airtight, providing clean indoor air alone by ventilation through seams and fissures is insufficient. It also won’t work to open the windows as advised. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is the fundamental performance objective. Fresh air is not just an issue of comfort; it is a necessary for healthy living. Thus, ventilation systems are the fundamental technology for all upcoming residential construction and renovations.
Air ventilation systems initially require a higher investment, if they are highly efficient systems, they will ultimately result in significant energy cost savings. Any building’s operating costs will be reduced by ventilation systems that meet Passive House standards.
Here’s where the idea of a “Passive Home” comes into play: Why not use fresh outdoor air for heating because the building needs to be supplied with vast amounts of it anyway? – Without any additional air, without air recirculating, without obtrusive noise, or draughts.
In this manner, the ventilation system benefits twice.
This “supply air heating” idea only applies to these houses, which are buildings with adequate insulation. In technical terms: To guarantee that the necessary heat can be supplied by the supply air, the transmission and infiltration heating load must be less than 10 W/m2.
In summary, Passive Houses are a marvel of energy-efficient construction. By combining airtight structures with intelligent design principles, they save their owners an incredible amount of energy and money, while offering unparalleled comfort and health benefits.
The Passive House Benefits
It might be viscerally shocking to breathe clean, oxygen-rich air inside given how acclimated we have been to poor air quality within buildings, tainted by high CO2 levels, However Passive House structures deliver filtered fresh air through regulated ventilation systems, they actively expel pollutants and provide a consistent supply of healthy, fresh air to residents. Dangerous mould and mildew don’t proliferate since these building assembly are meticulously designed to avoid moisture issues.
One of the main advantages of Passive House design and construction is superior comfort. This is due to a variety of factors related to building physics, including: nice even surface temperatures brought on by thermal bridge-free building assemblies, super-insulation, and high performance windows; minimal stratification of interior air temperatures as a result of those even surface temperatures; clever design of both solar gain and shading; and more.
Ecology / Sustainability
Passive House structures by definition are environmentally friendly because they require very little primary energy and don’t harm the environment in the process. In comparison to the energy they will ultimately save, the additional energy needed for their manufacturing (embodied energy) is fairly negligible.
Quiet | Passive House
While entering a Passive House structure, the majority of visitors first notice how quiet it is. The strong, high-performance walls, windows, and doors that are so essential to a Passive House’s ability to conserve energy also significantly lessen outside noise. heavy construction, train traffic, and city noise? No issue.
Old, metropolitan buildings with dust collecting on any horizontal surface and flowing through the walls are a familiar sight to those who live or work there. Construction using passive house principles solves this issue. A continuous air barrier prevents dust from entering building components, and the filter in the ventilation system for heat and energy recovery removes dust from incoming fresh air.
Keep the animals outdoors
Who wants insects or other animals to enter their building through the walls? The wild animals should remain outside, in their natural habitat. These critters will be halted in their tracks by the airtight construction of a Passive House building.
No unwanted odours or moisture
Passive House ventilation systems continually feed filtered fresh air into living spaces while sucking moisture and odours from kitchens and bathrooms and exhausting them to the outdoors. Within, any unwanted moisture or odours are rapidly removed. The airtight envelopes of Passive House buildings keep moisture and aromas from the outside from entering the structure.
Passive House structures are more lasting and require less maintenance than conventional buildings because of their strong building envelopes and lack of thermal bridges that can cause condensation. Building owners, residents, and builders can all benefit from this, as there will be fewer “call backs,” a significant source of risk and expense. Once you build a Passive House, there is no turning back to the conventional methods of doing things, according to passive house builders.
Predictable Performance | Passive House
The “Performance Gap,” or the discrepancy between anticipated thermal energy performance and actual performance once inhabited, plagues many other green building certifications. As demonstrated repeatedly by multi-building studies involving hundreds of individual units, Passive House design is firmly rooted in the building physics that determine thermal energy performance. As a result, its modelling tools (PHPP or WUFI-passive) have a very strong predictive power for thermal energy performance. When building a Passive House, you are aware of the performance to be had.
Buildings that are passively heated require less upkeep and have lower utility costs than conventional structures. Due to their superior building envelopes and build quality, Passive House buildings typically have a somewhat higher upfront construction cost than conventional buildings. Nevertheless, the additional debt payment for this upfront investment is frequently offset by savings in running costs. Design tools for passive houses enable professionals to optimise for cost and building performance. The knowledge we gather from designing and constructing additional Passive House structures lowers the cost of subsequent projects.
The Passive House method offers the most significant energy savings of any method for building energy efficiency. These savings are fantastic for building occupants and their energy budgets, as well as very beneficial for a grid that is converting to more sporadic clean energy. At times of peak demand, energy efficiency delivers its “negawatts” of energy services to the grid. To reduce the operating carbon emissions of our buildings and take climate action, deep energy efficiency is essential.
Building electrification, net zero energy and net zero carbon goals, and embedded carbon reduction may all be perfectly complemented by the energy efficiency and operational carbon reductions of Passive House. No matter what degree of energy performance you need to reach your goal—a zero carbon building, a Living Building, a LEED Platinum building, or any other number of green building certifications—Passive House offers a reliable and financially advantageous route.
We need “passive survival” architecture in this period of global weirding so that we can adapt to extreme weather, harsh conditions, and energy system failures. Passive House structures’ passive systems enable them to withstand protracted power outages while maintaining safe interior temperatures. They have filtered fresh air systems that can handle periods of extreme external pollution while maintaining clean air inside. Its storm-resistant building envelopes can withstand strong winds. Because Passive House structures consume so little energy, they can be powered by a small solar array and energy storage system in the event that the grid goes down.
A Passive Home can be designed by any qualified architect. Any new construction anywhere in the world can be constructed to meet these houses standard by combining various measures. More and more non-residential structures, including offices and schools, are adopting the adaptable Passive House Standard. Worldwide training in these building design is offered by a wide range of qualified professionals.
Retrofits | Passive House
Retrofits that incorporate Passive House components can also meet the Passive House Standard.