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Passive house properties

Passive house properties

The world’s most energy-efficient construction practices

Passive house properties – who needs air-conditioning?

The Germans developed the The Passive House, or “Passivhaus”, when in the 90’s  Physicist Wolfgang Feist developed a set of standards for these environmentally residences. The standards for these buildings are focused on three major points:

  1. heating and cooling energy criteria
  2. the electrical usage
  3. the air tightness of the building envelope, or the home’s outer shell.

So if the structure meets these criteria, a Passive House can be built with any architectural style, using any building materials desired. Its becoming more of a factor when consumers look at properties for sale off-plan, and is certainly a talking point when choosing between different developers products.

In architecture, passive cooling refers to a building that uses no energy-consuming technology or devices in order to help maintain a comfortable inside temperature. Some common methods of passively-cooling a house include properly sheltering it from the sun, utilising a reliable breeze, and using a nearby water source to cool the local air temperature. Orienting interiors to take full advantage of sunlight, using thick, highly insulated walls and installing European type airtight windows and heat recover ventilation systems that exchange indoor and outdoor air efficiently and provide superior air quality: these are some of the key techniques used in the construction of Passive buildings. The heating and cooling systems installed are typically much smaller in size compared to those used in conventional construction. Lower energy bills, a quieter living environment and cleaner air that even has the ability to reduce asthmatic and allergy systems are all direct consequences of passive house design.

For the statisticians among you, a Passive House property is usually more than 80% more efficient than normal homes. Targets are to effectively run on the amount of energy required from a blow dryer. Imagine essentially arriving at net zero for energy use—that is, a home that produces the same amount of or more energy than it consumes. How many problems could we solve then? If net zero is the Holy Grail in construction standards, going Passive first is the best way to get there.

Would it not be great to be able to minimise costs of running a property whilst saving and improving the natural environment. These properties should be at the forefront of architects design features.

Passive house properties - open covered spaces

Passive house properties – Winged House

The Winged House, by K2LD Architects, based in Singapore, and built upon a triangular plot. Malay architecture was the central theme of this beautiful property. The feature roof which depicts wings which haveextensive overhangs enable naturally ventilated spaces, and this is complemented by opening screens, a nearby pool, and an open air-filled interior.

The Winged House was completed in 2012.

Passive house properties - roof diagram

Roof diagram

In Leyte Philippines, Kotaro Nishiki famously built a passively cooled home which cuts down dramatically on electrical consumption. The cooling system is a remarkable example of a Passive house properties.

Compared to the other concrete houses in this neighbourhood which absorb heat during the day, this property is a cool alternative.

Kotaro’s design is centered on eliminating these daytime solar gains. He keeps the whole house shaded using these techniques:

  • The south facing single slope roof has on overhang on the south that keeps the south wall in shade most of the day.
  • The north side of the house is shaded by an roof extension sloped down to the north that shades the north side of the house most of the day.
  • The roof is double layered with airflow between the well spaced layers.  This greatly reduces solar heat gain through the roof.
  • The east and west walls of the house are double wall construction with a couple feet between the walls.  The shading that the outer wall offers plus airflow between the double walls keep the wall temperatures low.
  • In addition, he has worked out ways to take advantage of the night
    temperature drop and to use thermal mass on the basement to provide some
    cooling.

Any developer that involves forward thinking designs utilising these techniques, will bless the house owners with cool and comfortable accommodation and make passive house systems a reality.