Buildings are an important piece of the sustainability puzzle, as residential and commercial buildings have significant environmental impact. For example, the United Nations Environment Program states that commercial and residential buildings are responsible for 36% of global energy use and 39% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions annually. This means that we need to change not only the way we are currently living, but the structures in which we are living, working, and visiting as well.
While there are ways to make previously built buildings more sustainable through retrofits and energy efficient upgrades, it is also important to consider alternative ways of building in the first place, as new design techniques set precedents for a more sustainable future.
Passive House (also called Passivhaus in German) is a high-performance building standard that puts an emphasis on energy performance. Passive Houses consume up to 90% less heating and cooling energy than conventional buildings due to well insulated and tightly sealed building envelopes. The term Passive House can be a bit misleading, as it implies that this design and construction technique can only be applied to residential housing. This is not the case! The Passive House design process can be applied to all kinds of buildings.
The Passive House Standard ensures that buildings are designed in a way that is energy efficient, comfortable for occupants, and affordable.
Passive House Design Principles
There are five main design principles that must be adhered to in order to comply with the Passive House design standard. These design principles are:
Passive House design around the world
Although Passive House was designed in Europe, the building standard has spread across the globe. Regional Climate data is used to ensure that Passive Houses all over the world will be designed for comfort and efficiency with their specific climate zones.
The Passive House Institute and Rongen Architects have worked together to create a research project which deals with Passive House and its requirements in different climate zones. Five different locations (Jekaterinburg, Tokyo, Shanghai, Las Vegas and Dubai) were used in this project to represent different climate zones. Based on the findings from this research project, building examples for each specific climate were developed, therefore allowing for a global definition of the Passive House Standard to be created.
If you are interested in energy efficient buildings, sustainable building standards, or the Passive House Standard in particular, check out the Passive House Institute’s website! Other features that may be employed in a Passive House include Solar Walls.
For a virtual tour of a super-efficient office tower achieved in a cold climate (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) head over to Episode 54 of the Live. Well. Green. podcast. It gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the green building features of one of the most energy efficient office towers in the world - Manitoba Hydro Place.
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