Passive houses are sustainable homes that are far more than your average eco friendly homes because they are a building in which a comfortable interior climate can be maintained without active heating and cooling systems. Essentially, the passive house heats and cools itself, hence “passive”. The combined energy consumption of a passive house is actually less than the average new European home requires for household electricity and hot water alone.
The combined end energy consumed by a passive house is therefore less than a quarter of the energy consumed by the average new construction that complies with applicable national energy regulations making for high energy efficiency homes.
How does it work?
There are four key areas that comprise the Passive Home system:
1. Very high levels of insulation with minimal thermal bridges
2. Intelligent use of solar and internal gains
3. Excellent level of airtightness
4. Good indoor air quality provided by a mechanical ventilation system
With these features for sustainable homes in place, passive houses do not need a traditional heating system or active cooling to be comfortable to live in – the small heating demand can be met using a small electric heater within the ventilation system (although there are a variety of alternative solutions), making them the ultimate in eco friendly homes.
The timber frame is air tight, insulating and incredibly robust. When assembled they create a wall with exceptional thermal qualities, no thermal bridges and incredible durability, making them popular in areas prone to earthquakes, tornados and forest fire.
Timber frame walls have U-values as low as 0.11 w/m2k making them ideal for zero energy buildings – and because they are manufactured to fit your design the building process for these sustainable homes is quick, tidy and precise, with lower labour and equipment costs than alternative methods.
Because of the comprehensive range of components, timber frame construction offers unbelievable flexibility of design and allow you to choose internal and external cladding in a wide range of finishes, including plaster, masonry, curtain walling and renders. The use of timber frame construction and insulated concrete forms means that these house designs for sustainable homes are the ultimate eco-friendly homes.
How are air circulation and additional heating requirements catered for?
With timber frame components supplying the necessary insulation and airtightness, you need a complimentary system to provide adequate ventilation and prevent the air getting stale, as well as make up for any shortfall in heating requirements.
This is achieved most efficiently by transferring heat from the stale to the fresh air during the ventilation process. Using our heat transfer system, heat passes from hot air to cold air – it’s a process that is so efficient that air entering the room will only be approximately one or two degrees colder than the room it enters.
Technical specifications for Passive Homes:
For Europe (40 – 60 degree Northern latitudes), a dwelling is deemed to satisfy the Passive House sustainable homes criteria if:
- the total energy demand for space heating and cooling is less than 15 kWh/m2/yr treated floor area
- the total primary energy use for all appliances, domestic hot water and space heating and cooling is less than 120 kWh/m2/yr
These figures are verified at the design stage using the Passive House Planning Package.