Passive House – What has got everyone talking about this cutting edge building standard?

Building standards improve over time with the innovation of new best practices, so it’s no surprise that the Passive House has become so popular.  Simply put, a Passive House is one that utilises sophisticated building design to cut energy usage to a minimum while still maintaining a comfortable environment for its residents.

The recent pivot towards Passive Houses started in Germany and has since spread to countries all over the world.  Countries in the southern hemisphere or that have a warm climate have seen a growing trend for passive house development.

Residents in Australia are benefitting greatly from the introduction of passive houses because of how adaptable they are to the climate.  The Passive Home’s intelligent design utilises airflow and insulation to maintain a comfortable temperature within the dwelling.  Homeowners can thus glean large savings to run their homes during the winter and summer seasons, as well as the added bonus of increasing the resale value of the home.

Furthermore, Passive Homes are a great way to help prevent climate change by mitigating your carbon footprint, but it is still a misunderstood concept in Australia.

The Viability of the Passivhaus in Australia

The obstacles to passive houses in Australia involve airtightness, which has been a major difficulty for some of the nation’s contractors. There is some misconception that passive houses are like hermetically sealed boxes — the antithesis of the Australian lifestyle. In truth, Passivhaus provides an energy-efficient solution that allows for a comfortable indoor temperature.

 

Image Source: By Passivhaus_section_en.jpg: Passivhaus Institutderivative work: Michka B (talk) – Passivhaus_section_en.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9586761

The HRV systems take dirty air that’s exhausted from the structure and recirculates 100% fresh, filtered air so that, even in the heat of Australia, passive houses offer a sustainable and affordable solution to temperature fluctuations. The resistance to Passivhaus in Australia has been in part due to a fear that windows would forever be shut, but that isn’t accurate.

Experts who have experience in the design of passive houses suggest that when these structures are designed according to those exacting specifications, the opening and closing of windows is actually beneficial to the overall performance of the building.

And it’s not just the building that benefits, but homeowner’s pockets too.  Not only do Passive Houses use a lot less energy to run, but they are also very easy to incorporate renewable energy into. Passive Homes built in Australia for example, are often capable of being totally ‘off grid’, and thus, do not rely on the state power grid for electricity.  With environmentally-friendly insulation, such as uPVC windows, Passive Homes can rely completely on solar energy or other renewable energy sources.  What’s more, the same insulation that keeps warm air in the house also blocks noise from entering.

In summary, the primary factors driving the Passive House trend are the long-term energy cost savings, comfortability, and the benefit towards the environment by having a smaller carbon footprint.

 

About the Author: Garth Thomsen, GreenMatch.co.uk

Garth Thomsen is the editor at GreenMatch.co.uk – a comprehensive online guide helping residents in the UK make the switch to renewable energy, and GreenJournal.co.uk – a renewable energy conference portal and news site. If you are interested in making your home more sustainable, you can read about the benefits of installing double glazed windows.