There is no doubt that the Passive House technology is an important trend for buildings globally. For the past few years, people have been debating its merits, its possibilities, and its appropriateness for certain climates. Whether you live in an old house, a cold or windy or an extremely warm house, being susceptible to warm and cold both is important.
A passive house is one in which a comfortable interior climate can be maintained without active heating and cooling systems. While other houses employ a passive solar design or use alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power to minimize their environmental impact, the passive house is a specific certified building standard conceived building.
What exactly is a Passive House?
A passive house is not a brand name, but a construction concept that can be applied by anyone and everywhere. A Passive House is more than just a low-energy building, some following are listed positive points:
- Passive House buildings allow for heating and cooling related energy savings of up to 90% compared with typical building stock and 75% compared to average new buildings. In terms of heating oil, Passive House buildings use less than 1.5 liters per square meter of living space per year- less than typical low-energy buildings. A similar energy saving can be seen in warm climates where buildings require more energy for cooling than heating.
- These buildings are praised for a high level of comfort and use energy sources inside the building like- body heat from the residents or solar heat entering the building, making heating a lot easier.
- Windows with good insulation and a building shell consisting of good insulated exterior walls, roof and floor slabs keeping the heat during winter in the house and keeping the heat during summer out.
- A well-ventilated system supplies fresh air for superior air quality without causing any unpleasant draughts.
- The passive house also saves energy and reduces greenhouse gases.
Principles of Passive House
A Passive building comprises of design principles that are used to attain a quantifiable and rigorous level of energy efficiency within a specific quantifiable comfort level. Below are some principles that are followed while designing:
- Use of continuous insulation throughout its entire envelope without any thermal bridging.
- The building envelope is extremely airtight, preventing infiltration of outside air and loss of conditioned air.
- Employs high-performance windows and doors – solar gain is managed to exploit the sun’s energy for heating purposes in the heating season and to minimize overheating during the cooling season.
- Uses some form of balanced heat– and moisture-recovery ventilation.
- Uses a minimal space conditioning system.
- Net Zero and Net Positive buildings by minimizing the load that renewables require.
Benefits of Passive Design are:
- Comfortable Interior Climate: Passive houses capture energy from the sun in the form of heat instead of having to convert sunlight into electricity which is then used for heating systems. Because of the efficient use of sunlight, there are no temperature variations from room to room in a Passive House.
- Energy Efficiency: Solar capture isn’t the only feature that makes Passive Houses energy efficient, they are also built with superior insulation, airtight construction, and specially designed windows.
- Excellent Ventilation: Passive houses are built with a ventilation system that constantly supplies fresh air. Each Passive House has a highly efficient heat recovery unit that allows for the re-use of heated air as it cycles through time.
- Long term cost saving using energy efficiency.
- Systems need minimal space in design construction.
Some Potential Problems of Passive Houses:
Passive Houses offer incredible benefits and also a few problems or challenges that can be taken in mind:
- Water Consumption: In some locations where there is water scarcity, Passive Houses do an excellent job of tackling problems associated with gas and energy consumption, don’t address water consumption at all.
- Lack of Specific Building Expertise: There are some cases where it has been encountered that people living in Passive Houses may be associated with health risks, these problems are majorly caused by poor overall ventilation. Health issues like Insomnia, concentration problems, headaches, irritated eyes, hay fever, cold and cough, asthma, and muscle pain are often seen among the people when identified by researchers. Researchers have suggested for- peak ventilation in the kitchen, personal adjustment of temperature, and flushing services to reduce overheating.
Examples of Passive House Globally:
- Timber & Straw Passive House: The passive house produces more energy than it consumes. It is the first straw-bale building in the world to reach the ‘passive house plus’. Located in North Yorkshire and designed by Halliday Clark Architects, it blends well with its surroundings with natural stone cladding.
- Passivhaus, Poland: The facade of the house has been arranged in the form of natural stone gabions. Located next to Zawiercie (Poland), the house is designed by Kropka Studio merged the rustic feel of stone with contemporary building techniques. The stone facades showcase the poetic beauty of building sustainably with blending in with the landscape.
- Meath House, Ireland: Claded in wood, features a high-tech building envelope for insulating the home. any heat or hot water needed is provided by a solar PV array and a wood-burning boiler stove.
- Kolon E+Green House, Korea: Designed by Unsanddong Architects with Kolon Institute of Technology is a unique and stunning prototype passive house, being the first in Korea. The experimental design features include solar arrays, wind turbines, geothermal heat pumps, and rainwater harvesting from the massive green roof.
- Taos Passive House, New Mexico: Designed by Zero E Designs, is a uniquely certified passive house, it’s also LEED platinum-certified. The house is lit by LEDs and CFLs and features insulated twelve-inch-thick walls, a solar PV array, and rainwater harvesting.
The bottom line is, Passive House construction does reduce the costs of heating and cooling and when teamed with green building methods offers an inclusive design using the sun’s natural light and heat. The lasting values of Passive House include durable buildings, high air quality, comfort, energy-efficient savings.
We have got all types of building technologies to make it happen or make an energy-efficient building and our innovations will only make that technology more effective and low-cost. Now is the time for innovation and building as much as efficient buildings as the climate seem to be in action.
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