What is a Passive House? - October 13th 2011

What is a Passive House?

Homes are often the biggest investment in a persons life. It is one of the most vital assets of any individual. Thus, it is essential that the home is kept in good condition. Having a well maintained and well-designed home ensures less energy consumption and reduces the maintenance as well.

The house heats and cools itself (passive) without any active heating or cooling systems. It is known as "the greenest house" as well. A Passive House is a very well-insulated and a virtually air-tight building that is primarily heated by passive solar gain and by internal gains from people, electrical equipment, etc. Referred to as a Passive House because of its unique design, which essentially allows it to heat, cool and ventilate itself. A passive house is a building in which a comfortable interior climate can be maintained without active heating and cooling systems

Energy losses are minimized and any remaining heat demand is provided by an extremely small source. Avoidance of heat gain through shading and window orientation also helps to limit any cooling load, which is similarly minimized. An energy recovery ventilator provides a constant, balanced fresh air supply. The result of this is an impressive system that not only saves up to 90% of space heating costs, but also provides terrific indoor air quality. Typically Passive Home energy consumption is only one-tenth of a standard Canadian house.

The technology is based on highly sophisticated concepts for air exchange and circulation, thermal insulation, high efficiency windows and wood structure construction. The remaining energy requirements are mostly for lighting and house appliances. The necessary energy can be from renewable energy, if or when electrical power is either not available or not wanted.

Did you know that a human body produces 80W per hour of heat? Even more energy is generated using of your stove or hairdryer, for example, and won't be lost. This efficiency can be demonstrated by performing a blower door test. This ensures why Passive House construction project is snug, tight and energy efficient.

Most contractors in Canada make use of energy efficient technologies such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) in their construction projects and they are well educated and versed with this technology. With LEED the contractors are already taking the right step forward to sustainable building techniques. There is a building technique that goes beyond LEED standards, well known in Europe as The Passive House. Passive houses are well-established in Europe with over 17,000 existing passive units and a handful in North America.

Passive House vs. LEED

The Passive House concept is easier to understand than the ideas presented by LEED. Passive House minimizes the use of energy systems in a home by using heavily insulated walls and an airtight building envelope. Passive House buildings have more comfortable and healthier indoor Air quality than any other constructed building being design today.

Passive House construction is proven up to 90% more energy efficient and cuts your overall energy consumption. For all its energy requirements (light, cooking etc.) it uses about one 10th of the energy a traditional Canadian house consumes or, has less than half of the energy consumption of a Platinum LEED house. LEED projects usually provide increased efficiencies up to 30%.