Passive house: the houses with low energy consumption

Passive house

The passive house, passive house, or passive houses are houses that are characterized by having (almost) zero energy consumption.

The passive house concept, which is becoming increasingly important from an architectural and constructive point of view, is synonymous with sustainability and efficiency thanks to energy savings.

It is also related to the use of ecological materials, with the reduction of emissions, with a lower environmental impact and with the minimization of the carbon footprint during all phases of the construction process.

Origin and development of the Passive House concept

The term “Passive House” was born in Germany in the 80s of the 20th century. Its creators, Wolfgang Feist (German Building and Environment Institute) and Bo Adamson (Lund University, in Sweden), established a series of criteria to build houses that consume the minimum of energy and that offer a very high level of comfort.

In 1990 the first Passivhaus was built in the German city of Darmstadt. This same city has hosted the Passive House-Institut since the middle of that decade, a public body that controls the passive house standard and criteria.

It is very important to note that Passive House or Sky Marketing is not a commercial brand, but rather an efficient construction concept-based, fundamentally, on the use of the principles of bioclimatic architecture for the construction of buildings and homes.

Although this architectural model is applied, above all, to newly built buildings, it can also be used for renovations and renovations. In all cases, the priority is to obtain the highest thermal quality in the home, with a comfort temperature of between 20 and 21 degrees throughout the year without using any of the usual air conditioning systems.

→ It may interest you: What are the energy certificate and the habitability certificate?

What characteristics do Passivhaus houses have?

The key to designing passive houses is to make a thorough study of the climate of the area where the house is going to be built, assessing aspects such as average temperature, sunny and rainy days, humidity, shady areas, lighting, the wind and the characteristics of the environment.

This information is used to determine, among other issues, the orientation, shape and distribution of the house or the construction materials that will be used in its execution.

The adjective “passive” refers to the fact that these homes do not make energy efforts (such as burning fuel) to generate and maintain a comfortable temperature inside.

How do they do it? 

Using high-quality insulating materials, betting on highly efficient internal heat sources and minimizing ventilation losses with a controlled system with heat recovery.

To offer the comfort of its inhabitants, the Passivhaus also guarantee maximum insulation and air quality, which is why they are totally airtight, something that is achieved thanks, in large part, to the windows.

Passivhaus windows have double or triple glass, a type of glass with several layers and filled with a noble gas. This low emissivity reflects the heat inside the building in winter and keeps it outside in summer.

This type of window also facilitates acoustic insulation (guaranteeing minimal acoustic pollution) and the breakage of the thermal bridge, a phenomenon that occurs when the temperature of one material is transferred to another through physical contact and that can lead to large energy losses through the roofs or windows of the home.

As a summary, we can establish these common characteristics of passive houses:

  • Excellent thermal insulation.
  • Windows and doors with high performance.
  • Absence of thermal bridges to avoid both heat losses and unwanted energy gains.
  • Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery to take advantage of the heat generated by people and appliances.
  • Airtightness to prevent drafts and excessive regeneration that prevents maintaining a constant temperature in the home.

Advantages of buying or investing in a Passive House:

The main advantage of this type of housing is energy saving. Houses built under Passivhaus criteria optimize heat and spend up to 90% less on heating than buildings built with traditional patterns.

The total energy consumption can be up to 75%, even if we compare them with new buildings designed under European energy efficiency standards.

Other benefits of this architectural model are:

  • Lower environmental impact of the building in its construction stage and in its years of useful life.
  • Greater comfort. The passive house is an environment with constant conditions much more comfortable than any other type of house.
  • Longer useful life and less expense in repairs and reforms. Passive houses use high-quality, environmentally friendly materials. This type of material requires fewer repairs and avoids problems related to the use of low qualities.

How to get the Passivhaus certificate 

The Passivhaus certificate is a document that recognizes that a home is sustainable and that it meets certain construction criteria related to thermal insulation, the quality of the air inside the house, or the use of energy from the sun.

This certificate can be requested by anyone, as long as their home meets the requirements of the Passive House Institut, through the iPAQ (International Passive House Association).

Passivhaus certification can be requested at any time for new construction buildings (residential and non-residential) and for renovations (residential and non-residential). Its price (between € 3,000 and € 9,000) can be considered a great investment because, whether you plan to live in the house or want to rent it or put it up for sale, the home will appreciate.

When building a passive house, it is important that all participating agents (architects, designers, masons and other professionals) have sufficient training or advice. Therefore, if you want to get a Passive House certified home, you must contact a qualified technician who works with a certifying entity (Passive House Certifier) ​​and who can request and send the appropriate reports to the Passive House Institute (PHI).

This technician will also be in charge of verifying that the building complies with the standards, both in the design phase and in the construction phase.

Some of the technical issues that will be assessed are:

  • That the house is built in an ideal location.
  • That it has the optimal orientation to benefit from light and heat.
  • That its outer casing does not have a tightness greater than 0.6 volumes / h (measured with a pressure of 50 Pascals).
  • That the energy demand for heating and cooling of the home is less than 15 kWh / m²a (kilowatt hours per square meter useful year).
  • That the maximum primary energy consumption for heating, cooling, domestic hot water (DHW) and electricity is less than 120 kWh / m²a

Passive houses are designed and built to be highly comfortable and efficient. If you want to know more about this type of housing and its certification, we can help you. Contact Tajarat properties.



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