What is a passive house?
term passive house, or passivhaus, refers to a type of ecologically
sound building which complies - voluntarily - with a strict set of
energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly criteria. In essence,
passive houses require minimal energy for heating and cooling and
therefore retain a modest carbon footprint. Although primarily
residential properties, passive houses can also be schools, offices
or supermarkets, having grown in popularity in recent years in line
with increasing environmental awareness. Originating in Germany in
1990, the passive house concept has spread widely throughout
German-speaking countries and Scandinavia, with over 25,000 certified
buildings in Europe alone by 2010. Notable features of these
forward-thinking homes include superinsulation and passive solar
building design, with a limit on the volume of air emitted from the
building each year and a primary energy consumption cap of 60
about passive houses in the UK?
line with the rest of Northern Europe, passive house awareness and
popularity has grown significantly in recent years. There are now
several national bodies overseeing the construction of new homes,
ensuring each complies with the strict set of standards required. In
order to achieve the Passivhaus Standard in the UK, a building will
high levels of insulation
performance windows with insulated frames
bridge free' construction
- A mechanical ventilation system with highly efficient heat recovery
design using the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP)
you’re considering building a passive house or converting your
existing property, make sure you enlist the guidance of an
specialised organisation such as The Passivhaus Trust, as well as the
advice of an experienced architect.
are the elements to consider when building a passive house?
order to meet the rigorous standards of passive house design, there
are several key elements that must always be incorporated. Without
these, the home cannot be certified as belonging to this category -
so it’s important to get it right. The fundamental components
window technology in order to allow in maximum sunlight and minimise
solar design to capitalise on the sun’s energy with
cleverly-placed windows and the most effective surface area for the
to reduce heat transfer through walls
in order to minimise external pollution
natural ventilation where possible
heating to make use of any residual energy from appliances or
from photovoltaic panels and low-energy compact fluorescent lamps
these elements have been incorporated into the design of the home, it
will need to be independently inspected and certified before the
label ‘passive house’ can be applied.
are the pros and cons of passive houses?
and foremost, if you weren’t concerned about the environment and
keen to make some positive lifestyle choices, you probably wouldn’t
be reading this. So the number one advantage of passive houses is the
relative good they do the planet, and their minimal carbon footprint.
They are also inherently sustainable and built to last, so they’re
a prudent investment if you have the money to play with. They’re
also pleasantly in tune with the natural world, allowing a rather
wholesome sense of self sufficiency. In terms of drawbacks, the most
obvious is the initial cost. In order to meet the rigorous standards
required to become a passive homeowner, there are many hoops to jump
through in terms of materials, design and technology. There will also
be some inherent limitations in terms of aesthetics and style, with
function outweighing form at every turn.
much will a passive house cost me?
you’re seriously considering building or buying a passive house,
bear in mind that you really do get what you pay for. Although new
build costs tend to be 8-10% higher for this type of home in the UK,
you’ll end up with a sustainable and cheap-to-run dwelling that
should last a lifetime. Converting an existing property can cost
around £50k, with a 3-bedroom detached passive house in the vicinity of £280k and a 4-bed coming in at