What is passive housing, and should kiwi’s be looking into it?
A passive house is a voluntary standard energy-efficient building, which reduces the building’s ecological footprint. This results in buildings that require little energy for space heating or cooling. The concept of Passive House (Passivhaus) was originated from Germany in the 1990s. The first Passivhaus residences were built in Darmstadt in 1990 with much success, creating a flow-on effect where more and more were built in various countries worldwide over the last 30 years.
Here are the 5 things you need to know about passive housing (Passivhaus):
- Integrated Design – Passivhaus is fundamentally about design.
- Location – Suitable anywhere in the world but the design cannot be designed or constructed the same way due to climatic reasons.
- Orientation – Solar heating gain is optimised not maximised.
- Form – Particular shape or form does not dictate the design, however, simple forms are more effective because of building physics.
- Construction System – Works with almost all construction systems, but must be airtight and no thermal-bridge.
Why should you think about building a passive house?
If you have a passion for sustainability and reducing the ecological footprint when it comes to housing, a ‘Passive House’ is the answer. Because it is designed to be energy efficient, it will cost you less in the long run with little or no need to pay for energy bills. Your homes will be healthier, better ventilated and air-tight. However, it is also important to be aware that everything has its advantages and disadvantages. Especially when it comes to designing something outside the norm, there will be challenges at the start.
- Thicker walls offer more heat retention.
- Insulation creates a sound barrier.
- Long-term cost savings using energy efficiency.
- Systems need minimal space in the design construction.
- Initial costs can be 10%-30% higher with new or renovated construction.
- Weather conditions can alter the performance.
- Occupants need to learn how to operate controls and update their lifestyle to suit.
- A back-up heating system may be needed.
- Possible thermal bridging limitations.
How/ why should you consult architects about a passive house?
Most designers and architects like it when you want to consult them about a passive house because they want to promote quality housing and lifestyle. Better and well-thought designs also mean less impact on the environment.
At OSA we are passionate about healthy homes and love to hear from clients who are interested in building one.
“Passive house design is like wearing the right winter jacket. The fabric does most of the work to keep a person warm or cool.” – OSA