The Passivhaus concept is simple and results in a workplace or home that is exceptionally comfortable, warm in winter and sufficiently cool in summer.
The approach is based on an objective scientific method using energy-related targets to define a framework. The targets can be met in numerous ways allowing ample scope for design creativity.
The energy consumption in a Passivhaus is reduced to such a level that hardly any heating is required in winter; most of the demand can be covered by passive heat sources, such as the sun, the occupants and household appliances.
The biggest passive contribution is made by the thermal insulation of the building, maintaining warmth during cooler months and reducing heat gains inside the building in the summer. The only technical equipment necessary is limited to the active ventilation of the interior spaces.
Passivhaus is a holistic approach that delivers high levels of comfort, not possible with more traditional building techniques.
The main components of a Passivhaus include:
excellent thermal insulation of the entire building envelope. Windows have insulated frames and are triple-glazed
avoidance/ minimising of thermal bridges through the insulation
airtight construction of the building to eliminate draughts, leak-induced damage and ventilation heat loss
careful siting of windows to enable passive solar contributions to the heating
comfort ventilation system with heat recovery and a controlled supply and extraction of air (MVHR).
Contrary to popular belief, opening of windows is encouraged in the summer to aid cooling, and studies show that opening them in the winter is also possible without significantly increasing heating demand. For more myths about Passivhaus see Elrond Burrell's excellent article here.
Incidentally, through supreme energy efficiency (around 90% less heating energy consumed than conventional buildings), the concept is also good for the environment.
For more information about the Passivhaus standard, visit Passipedia here.