What is a passive house? The term and concept, developed at Lund University in Sweden, is becoming increasingly relevant in Australia. It is a standard developed with the aim of designing a building in such a way that it uses significantly less energy, reducing heating and cooling costs in the process.
There are many different elements to the passive house concept, as it concerns the manner in which a home is built, the technology used, ventilation, the structure and a host of other factors. But chief among them is the concept of taking into account the local climate and the conditions of the property itself; passive design varies from house to house. This model for building and design can help homeowners achieve a 6 Star energy rating.
If widely adopted, this approach has the potential to help create a more sustainable Australia in the future. The passive house concept is based on the following principles:
Adequate insulation is required within the building’s structure so that it provides the sufficient thermal isolation to reduce the flow of air from outside to inside and vice-versa. This provides thermal comfort inside the house and eliminates the risk of internal condensation.
Passive (high performance) windows
A passive house design doesn’t just look at the structure and building envelope, it also takes into account aspects like the windows. The appropriate size and type of window used will vary depending on the orientation of the home and the climate in the area. The idea here is to allow for sufficient solar radiation to penetrate the home during the winter, while ensuring the home retains heat in the colder months.
Mechanical Ventilation Hear Recovery
Mechanical Ventilation enables the efficient heat and coolth recovery which would otherwise be wasted at the same time filtering the air that is coming inside the house. The result is very few pollutants in the air inside the house and low condensation creating a healthy indoor environment.
Airtightness is another important aspect of the passive house and also crucial for efficient heating and cooling. The idea here is to ensure the envelope of the house is airtight with minimal cracks and openings. This gives you greater control of the internal environment inside the house, increasing thermal comfort.
Thermal Bridge-Free Construction
When designing a passive house, the insulation should not just be sufficient but should also be consistent and balanced throughout the house. The aim is to have insulation in place that reduces the penetration of heat into and through it. This can be achieved using the construction material which is not conductive to heart like as the wooden materials instead of the metal materials.
As shown, the concept of the passive house mainly looks at reducing the carbon footprint and energy consumption by way of making cooling and heating the home more efficiently. It is highly intuitive to also consider the specific circumstances and location of the house when looking to make it more sustainable. The passive house concept continues to become more relevant and will hopefully become mainstream going forward.
About the Author
Emma Sneddon, a freelance writer and an independent blogger. She mostly writes about sustainable and alternative living solutions. Follow her on Twitter @EmmaSneddon90 for the latest updates.