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Fri Mar 20, 2015

The Passive House Standard may seem like a daunting prospect to those who are new to the concept and the idea is often shrouded in many myths from its design stages to its end use.  It is important to remember that the criteria applied to meeting the Passive House Standard are not a mix and match menu of options but rather a refined and logical process that works together to achieve the numerous benefits for occupancy.

Here we will break down the definitions and criteria required in order to achieve a Quality Assured Passive House Certificate and, in turn, take a look at the benefits a Passive House building provides.

The Passive House Standard is focused on providing optimal air quality and comfort through post-heating or post-cooling the fresh air flow, without the additional need for recirculation of air.  This means that from the outset of the planning process the following criteria are the benchmarks for achieving the Passive House Standard in a central European climate:

1.       Space heating demand and space cooling demand

A Passive House building must be designed to attain an annual heating and cooling demand of no more than 15KWh/m2 per year energy respectively or to have a peak heat load below 10W/m2

2.       Primary energy demand

The total primary energy consumption for heating, cooling, domestic hot water and auxiliary and household electricity must be no more than 120kWh/m2 per year.

Both of the above criteria go hand in hand with the following stipulation for airtightness and, if followed, work in harmony together in order to attain the desired end result for a Passive House Certified building.

3.       Airtightness

The building must not leak more air than 0.6 times the house volume per hour – without sufficient airtightness incorporated effectively into the design from the outset the quality of the building is compromised and attaining the Passive House Standard is unlikely.

By reducing heating demand, space cooling demand and primary energy demand, and ensuring that the minimum standard of airtightness is applied, a Passive House will deliver a wide range of benefits to its occupants.  These include comfortable and healthy air, low energy consumption, a robust and long lasting dwelling, as well as affordability and environmentally friendly features.

Achieving the principle requirements for the Passive House Standard requires a shift in the approach to building design and construction.  There are many techniques and technologies which can be utilised in order to deliver a certified Passive House.   These include using the assistance of the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) at design stage, as well as assessing solar design and landscape, and the use of high quality fabrics and materials: eliminating thermal bridges through high quality thermal insulation, applying advanced window technology and seeking the best solutions to maximise air quality and comfort through appropriate mechanical heat recovery ventilation systems (MVHR).

Read more about heating and cooling a Passive House here.

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