Passive Houses

Architecture / architecture, building, design, housing, passive, planning, sustainable
Passive Houses

Recently, everyone has heard at least once about passive houses. Today, we will try to explain what the principles of this kind of building are and how it works.

The first passive house (Passivhaus) was built in Germany, based on the concept of Wolfgang Feist and Bo Adamson who developed a standard for energy efficiency.

The interiors’ temperature is constant throughout the whole year without using a conventional heating or cooling system. The building will have 20-30 cm of insulation so the energy loss through the roof will be minimum. The required ventilation is not exclusively provided through windows but through a specially created system that involves heat recovery.  The exhausted air is removed from the interior and fresh air is introduced, so the comfort of the occupants is assured.  

The energy balance of a passive house is calculated using a special program called PHPP (Passivhaus Projektierungs Paket) which takes in consideration all the important details: insulation, all types of thermal bridges (socket, windows), and airtightness, the orientation of the building, and the shading and ventilation.

A passive house should fulfill the following standard:

  • Specific energy requirements for heating less than 15kW/square meter per year and 15kW/square meter for cooling
  • Peak heat load less than 10 W/square meter
  • Specific primary energy consumption (heating, hot water, electricity) less than 120 kWh/square meter per year
  • Airtightness n50 <0,6/hour

Variations can be found in Switzerland where the standard is called Minergie and in France as Effinergie with slightly different requirements for single-family housing:

  • Heating and hot water preparation over the whole year using heat pump with a ground-probe as energy source
  • Wood-fired heating and hot-water preparation using solar collectors
  • Automatic pellet-fired heating and hot-water preparation
  •  Use of district heating with waste heat
  • Air-water heat-pump-based heating and hot water preparation.

Regarding the architecture of the building, some rules also need to be followed:

  • Smaller footprint, compact shape of the building
  • Large windows South oriented and no windows to the North
  • Few exterior doors
  • Roof with a slope oriented to the South for the solar panels
  • The building can be divided into apartments

If you ever thought about building a house you should also take into consideration this possibility as it meets both the demands on comfort and energy saving.

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