What does the phrase “Passive House” mean? Ask this question to a number of individuals and you are likely to get a wide variety of answers. The responses would probably range from a correct understanding of the energy performance standard, to a variety of misconceptions (e.g. “Passive Houses don’t need a heating/cooling system”; or “You cannot open windows in a Passive House”!).
Passive House is an energy-performance building standard which achieves year-round comfort and excellent indoor environmental conditions with minimal space heating or cooling demand.
The Passive House standard originated in Germany in the early 1990s, and over the past 2 decades, it has become internationally recognised.
The Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) Software is used as a design tool for achieving the Passive House standard.
Applicable to all building types
It is important to note that the Passive House Standard can be used for new-build or retrofit; it can be used for all building types (commercial or residential) and can be implemented in all climates.
The Passive House Institute introduced criteria in 2012 for retrofit projects called EnerPHit.
The appearance of a passive house building does not need to differ from conventional buildings and living or working in them does not require any lifestyle changes.
Minimise Heat Losses
A primary focus on building to the Passive Standard is directed towards creating a thermally efficient envelope i.e. minimise heat losses and maximise free-heat gains. This requires consideration of key performance elements which include:
- Thermal bridging
- Heat Recovery Ventilation