Introduction To Passivhaus Components Construction Essay

Introduction to Passivhaus Components

This chapter introduces the Passivhaus construct. Equally good as supplying a brief history of where the Passivhaus thought came from and how it has grown over the old ages, it aims to explicate what Passivhaus means and place what constituents are necessary in a edifice in order for it to be certified a Passivhaus.


The original thought of a Passivhaus came from a conversation between Dr. Wolfgang Feist and Professor Bo Adamson in May 1988. Inspired by super insulated edifices in America their thought was to utilize the Torahs of natural philosophies to bring forth highly efficient, low energy edifices. ( Bo Adamson continued to prosecute the development with Wolfgang Feist until his retirement ) .

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The first Passivhaus homes were completed in Darmstadt, Germany in October, 1991. These were inhabited by four households and the edifices have since been tested on a regular basis to measure the efficiency of the edifice throughout its lifetime. A Europe broad undertaking, Cost Efficient Passivhaus as European Standard ( CEPHEUS ) besides proctors and scientifically evaluates 250 buildings built to Passivhaus criterions. This is to show the proficient feasibleness of scope of different edifices and designs that implement the criterion.

Dr. Wolfgang Feist went on to establish the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt in September 1996 as an independent research establishment. Using physicists, mathematicians, and civil, mechanical and environmental applied scientists they aim to better the efficiency of energy usage through research and development.

The Passivhaus design criterion has since become mainstream and widespread and has been applied to residential, commercial, industrial and public edifices all over the universe. To day of the month over 17,000 homes have been constructed in conformity with Passivhaus rules, with several undertakings now approaching completion and enfranchisement in the UK. ( BRE Passivhaus Primer, 2009, p.2 )

“ I was working as a physicist. I read that the building industry had experimented with adding insularity to new edifices and that energy ingestion had failed to cut down. This offended me – it was counter to the basic Torahs of natural philosophies. I knew that they must be making something incorrect. So I made it my mission to happen out what, and to set up what was needed to make it right. ”

Dr. Wolfgang Feist

‘Passivhaus ‘ non ‘Passive House ‘

The undermentioned information will explicate why the research undertaking refers to the German ‘Passivhaus ‘ and non the English ‘Passive House ‘ and will clear up the difference between the two.

Passive House refers to a design that maximises the benefits of natural factors to cut down the energy demands of a edifice. These inactive edifices will normally do usage of maximizing the inactive solar addition by holding a extremely glazed south face and/or Sun suites, this, every bit good as being thermally efficient will cut down warming and unreal lighting demands. Typically these edifices will utilize natural airing systems.

Although Passivhaus does integrate some characteristics of a Passive design it is different in the manner that it is air-tight and uses mechanical airing engineering to preheat fresh incoming air. This is frequently known as an ‘active ‘ attack to heating. This attack allows the interior decorator more flexibleness with the warming design. However right specification of the system and a good quality design is needed in order to accomplish the low infinite heating demand of 15 kWh/ ( m2a ) to make the Passivhaus Standard. A drawback to the Passivhaus design is that the mechanical and electrical system will necessitate care. However the edifice will non be as reliant on orientation, will non lose as much energy through natural airing and will non be as prone to overheating as Passive Houses.

Conversely the Passivhaus Institut does utilize the term ‘Passive House ‘ in all its text, this is because it is a direct interlingual rendition from German which the publications were originally written in.


As with any energy efficient house design, Passivhaus uses insularity throughout the edifice cloth to maintain the edifice warm in winter and cool in summer. To accomplish high R-values and low U-values in the walls, roof and floors a assortment of insulating stuffs can be used. These are likely to be more advanced and/or thicker than that used in traditional houses ( hence super-insulation ) to significantly cut down the heat transportation through the edifice envelope.

Insulation is frequently described as the most of import rule of a Passivhaus design. Insulation needs to be applied continuously around the edifice envelope without any thermic bridging. This allows the edifice to retain the heat that is generated within the house on a day-to-day footing from activities – such as cookery, electrical contraptions and people ‘s organic structure heat – and besides via inactive agencies ( solar addition ) .

The high degree of thermic insularity means that heat losingss in winter are negligible and during hot periods of summer the inside of the edifice is protected from the heat. Another of import consequence of the insularity is that the internal surfaces are about the same temperature as the indoor air temperatures. This avoids harm caused by the humidness of indoor air temperature and gives a comfy indoor clime.

To accomplish the Passivhaus criterion all constituents of the exterior shell of the edifice should be insulated to accomplish a U-value that does non transcend 0.15 W/m2/K.

A disadvantage to utilizing a super-insulated design is that due to the increased thickness of the walls the floor country of the edifice may be less than compared to traditional building. This may be resolved if the external dimensions of the edifice can be enlarged to counterbalance.


Theoretically any type of window can be used in a Passivhaus building every bit long as it meets the Passivhaus criterion when put into PHPP. In world this by and large means a utilizing a window that has a whole window U-value ( including frame ) of around 0.8 kWh/m2/K or less. This therefore means that the window is likely to be ternary glazed, because without ternary glazing the heat loss is excessively high and the criterion will non be achieved. A benefit is that the surface temperature of the Windowss will be similar to that of the environing internal surfaces so even on a cold twenty-four hours no uncomfortableness will be felt whilst sitting near a window. Triple glazing besides has the advantage of cut downing sound transmittal from exterior.

The usage of low emissivity coatings on the glazing is besides a good thought as it helps command the heat transportation through the window. The coating is a microscopically thin metal or metallic oxide bed deposited straight on the surface of the window glass of glass. The low-E coating reduces the infrared radiation from a warm window glass of glass to a ice chest window glass hence cut downing the U-value of the window. For warm climates the coating should be applied to the outer window glass ( s ) of glass to cut down solar addition and for cool climes should be applied to the interior window glass ( s ) to reflect the heat back into the house. Although 10 % -15 % more expensive than regular Windowss they can cut down energy loss by 30 % -50 % .

Having gas filled Windowss will besides cut down the U-value, hence cut downing energy costs. Having the window filled with gasses such as Argon or Krypton minimises the convection currents within the infinite which reduces the overall heat transportation between the interior and outside of the house. By barricading harmful UV sunrays the window can cut down the consequence of melting on the inside of the edifice ( such as rugs ) . Having a gas filled window besides increases the ability to cut down the sum of hoar and condensation build-up and reduces the sum of solar radiation come ining the edifice during summer whilst maintaining a higher interior temperature during winter.

Windows used in Passivhaus building are besides likely to utilize warm border spacers between the window glasss of glass and besides ace insulated frames. These use low conduction stuffs to separate window glasss of glass instead than the conventional aluminum spacer. Using warm border spacers will increase the thermic public presentation of the window, cut down condensation and besides absorb some noise pollution.

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Wall building

Traditionally Passivhaus edifices are built utilizing either a lumber frame method or a solid masonry method with external insularity and render. This is because these are the methods typically used across mainland Europe, where the technique was developed. It is easier to do the edifice airtight utilizing these methods as you can utilize vapour barriers to line the building and air tightness tapes. Passivhaus interior decorators are besides likely to be more comfy with utilizing these methods as they use them more frequently.

It has late been proved nevertheless that the Passivhaus criterion can be met utilizing a pit wall building. This is good intelligence for the UK as British builders and interior decorators will be more familiar with this technique and Passivhaus edifices will be able to suit in with local, environing edifices doing be aftering permission more likely to be granted. Using a pit wall method though will necessitate more attending to air tightness item as it relies on moistures plaster to be the air tightness barrier on walls and junctions with doors, Windowss, floors and roof. However an advantage of utilizing pit walls is that it increases the degree of thermic mass within the insulated edifice envelope. Using concrete blocks and concrete ground-floor slab will accomplish a greater thermic mass which will move as a heat shop, hive awaying heat from inactive solar additions and let go ofing it in ice chest periods.

Passivhaus is non merely restricted to these methods though, in fact most methods have been tested and work successfully, including ; masonry building, lightweight building, prefabricated elements, insulating concrete formwork building, steel building, and all combinations of the methods above. ( BRE Passivhaus Primer, p. 5 )

Air Tightness

Air stringency is improbably of import in accomplishing a successful Passivhaus design. Unwanted air escape can do several jobs within a edifice. These include ; increasing infinite warming demands and costs significantly, doing localised uncomfortableness due to checkerss, the possibility of wet build up within the edifice cloth which may accordingly cut down public presentation and lifetime of the edifice. It is hence necessary to accomplish an air stringency of 1 m3/ ( hr.m2 ) @ 50 Pa or less in a Passivhaus building to extinguish these jobs. Many stuffs can be used to organize a uninterrupted airtight barrier around the edifice including tapes, cringles, adhesives, wet plaster and/or vapour membranes. It is really of import that a suited scheme is developed within the design phase of the undertaking to guarantee building runs swimmingly. When the edifice is near completion it will have a ‘blower door trial ‘ to see if the building has reached the needed criterion, careful and quality craft will be required in order to accomplish the coveted consequence. A good degree of air stringency is besides necessary for the MVHR unit to work to the best of its ability.

Thermal bridging

Thermal bridging is where heat from inside the edifice will follow the way with the least opposition ( the lower the opposition the easier it is for heat to flux ) to the outside of the edifice. If there is an component with much higher conduction than the stuff environing it ( e.g. steel surrounded by concrete ) so heat will get away from the edifice through this component. The way will non needfully be perpendicular to the surfaces.

In any edifice it is preferred to avoid any thermic bridging as they significantly increase heat losingss and besides diminish interior surface temperatures which can ensue in countries of high humidness in parts of the building. The most common topographic points where thermic Bridgess are found are junctions between ; wall and land floor slab, wall and Windowss, wall and floors, and wall and roof.

It is built-in to maintain thermic bridging to an absolute lower limit in a Passivhaus design in order to maintain heat from get awaying from the edifice. If the thermic span coefficient, which is a step of excess heat losingss through a thermic span, is less than 0.01 W/ ( mK ) so the item is said to be thermic span free, a necessary in a Passivhaus design. As Passivhaus ‘ have higher internal surface temperatures than traditional physiques, critical humidness can non happen at any topographic point and the extra heat losingss will be negligible.

In order to maintain the design ‘thermal span free ‘ it is of import to do certain insularity around the edifice envelope is uninterrupted, to utilize good designed and extremely insulated window frames and doors, and to do usage of stuffs such as porous bricks with low thermic conduction for the first row of bricks between the junction of the interior masonry wall and land floor slab.

Thermal Bypass

Although Passivhaus criterions do non explicitly address the issue of thermic beltway and air current stringency it is of import to see this job when planing a extremely energy efficient edifice. Thermal beltway happens by manner of natural convection or forced convection ( such as air current ) or as a combination of the two. Even in an airtight constructing air can sometimes be permitted to travel through or around the insularity, this will, in consequence, beltway the thermic belongingss of the insularity and cut down its public presentation.

To avoid thermic beltway, it should be ensured that the outer foliage of the edifice will move as a air current and rain barrier, paying peculiar attending to continuity at both structural gaps and service incursions. Pits, where possible, should be to the full filled with insularity without any spreads ( this is non possible in lumber frame building as ventilated pits are required ) . This should guarantee that air is non permitted to travel through insularity, around insularity, over the face of insularity or behind insularity hence forestalling thermic beltway.

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Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery – MVHR

All edifices occupied by worlds need a supply of fresh air to guarantee wellness and comfort. As the Passivhaus technique relies on being airtight, it is necessary to utilize a mechanical airing system to present fresh air to the edifice and dispose of stale air. If there was no mechanical airing the resident would hold to open the Windowss one time every three hours, for five to ten proceedingss, to have equal airing ( BRE Passivhaus Primer, p.5 ) . This would be impracticable and cause unbearable heat losingss. An air alteration rate of 0.3 times the edifice volume per hr is deemed to be the optimum degree to give a healthy, comfy environment with nominal heat loss. The system works by taking stale air from suites that generate a batch of pollution and/or humidness such as kitchens, bathrooms and lavatories. Fresh air from exterior is supplied to populating suites, sleeping rooms and workrooms to replace the stale air that has been removed. A high degree of indoor air quality is achieved by the system providing precisely every bit much fresh air is needed for comfort ; air from inside the edifice is ne’er re-circulated as this would be counterproductive. Any unwanted smells, wet and C dioxide generated by residents is removed and replaced with fresh air.

Theoretically this could be provided by an exhaust fan airing system with fresh air blowholes. For a Passivhaus nevertheless the heat losingss from this would be unacceptable, so the system must utilize heat recovery to go more energy efficient. Heat from exhaust air is transferred to the fresh air by manner of a counter flow heat money changer driven by two efficient fans. This works by fluxing the extracted air through a channel where it delivers its heat to home bases, the cooled fumes air is so removed from the edifice. Fresh air is pulled over the money changer plates through different channels where it absorbs the heat from the home bases. The warmed air is so supplied to the edifice. If the money changer is long plenty about 100 % of the heat can be recovered, in pattern systems are available that can provide 75 % – 95 % heat recovery.

The efficiency of airing systems can besides be increased through the usage of Earth buried canals. This allows fresh air to absorb heat from the land during winter and to be cooled during summer. This is because air temperatures are lower than land temperatures during winter and higher than land temperatures during summer.

Windows in a Passivhaus can still be opened whenever the resident feels the demand, possibly to chill the house on a hot twenty-four hours or to hear the sounds of nature ) . It is likely that the user will desire to make this less frequently than in a traditional edifice, as they are having first-class inside air quality from their MVHR system.

Using a MVHR unit besides provides another benefit as it besides gives the chance to heat the edifice by heating the supply air. This will be discussed further in the warming subdivision.

Passive Solar Gain

A Passivhaus building will usually integrate inactive solar edifice techniques. This means doing edifices compact in form, where possible, to cut down their surface country and orientating Windowss to confront the equator, ( i.e. confronting south in the Northern hemisphere and north in the southern hemisphere ) to maximize inactive solar addition. A shadowing system on the frontage of the edifice is besides likely to be a necessity, so that in the summer months direct sunshine is blocked out in order that the edifice does non overheat.

It is besides recommended that a Passivhaus design does integrate an component of internal thermic mass even if the construction is constructed from lightweight stuffs. This thermic mass will cut down temperatures during the extremum of summer, maintain stable temperatures through winter and forestall the possibility of overheating in both spring and fall when the Sun is non high plenty in the sky for the solar shading to go effectual.

Energy demands are reduced by maximizing inactive solar addition as heat transferred to the edifice will be trapped inside the super insulated shell. Day illuming demands can besides be reduced by usage of an optimised design.


Passivhaus design aims to maximize the potency of internal additions and hence understate the demand for a separate warming system. In any edifice tonss of heat is generated on a day-to-day footing, non including that coming from infinite heating systems. This is from worlds, pets, contraptions and lighting, fundamentally anything that needs energy to work. The design of a Passivhaus is such that it keeps this heat inside the home so that none of the energy is wasted. Obviously this is a great advantage as it reduces infinite warming costs, but the designs are frequently so efficient that there is hazard of overheating. It is hence advised that low energy lighting and contraptions are used throughout the edifice to understate internal additions, this will besides cut down running costs.

Undoubtedly in some climes extra warming will be needed on really cold yearss, or chilling on really hot yearss. It is hence suggested that an integrated compact unit is used which can provide extra warming ( or chilling ) for the supply air in the airing system ( MVHR ) and besides a domestic hot H2O boiler. There are assorted solutions that can be chosen for heat coevals including ; usage of a little heat pump ( which may be used in concurrence with photovoltaic cells ) , usage of a little condensation burner ( with natural gas ) or usage of a little burning unit for biomass fuel. Implementing renewable energy engineerings is non a nucleus demand of the Passivhaus criterion, although utilizing renewable energy will further cut down running costs and C dioxide emanations. This may go necessary in the hereafter with the push towards ‘zero C ‘ .

PHPP – Passivhaus Planning ( Design ) Package

When planing a edifice to Passivhaus criterion it is of import to utilize PHPP package to guarantee that the edifice will run into Passivhaus criterions one time built. Simply put, the package is used for ciphering the energy ingestion degrees of the proposed building. It can be compared to other programmes such as SAP or NHER but PHPP goes into more item than these programmes and is specifically designed for usage with super-insulated edifices with mechanical airing systems. Although PHPP is a bit more complicated to utilize than these other systems it provides much more accurate consequences and feedback with regard to passive solar design, heat recovery and airing, thermic bridging and the impact of thermic mass.

It was foremost published in 1998 by the Passivhaus Intitut ( PHI ) Germany and has been continually developed and updated since so. Subsequent releases of PHPP were made in 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, with the most recent edition published in 2007. ( Clarke & A ; Reason 2008, p.10 ) It consists of a Cadmium which contains the PHPP tool, a spreadsheet that runs on Microsoft excel, and a 200 page paper manual. The manual non merely tells the user how to utilize the package but besides gives advice to architect or engineer utilizing the package on how to optimise their design. PHPP is continuously going more accurate as it is ever being validated and refined based on measurings from more than 300 undertakings being compared with computation consequences and besides new scientific research surveies and consequences.

PHPP includes:

energy computations ( incl. R or U-values )

design of window specifications

design of the indoor air quality airing system

size of the warming burden

size of the chilling burden

prediction for summer comfort

size of the warming and domestic hot H2O ( DHW ) systems

computations of subsidiary electricity, primary energy demands of such ( circulation pumps, etc. ) , every bit good as projection of CO2 emanations

verifying computation cogent evidence of KfW and EnEV ( Europe )

Climate Data Sheet: Climate parts may be selected from over 200 locations in Europe and North America. User-defined informations can besides be used.

… and a batch more tools utile in the design of inactive houses, e.g. a computation tool to find internal heat tonss, informations tabular arraies for primary energy factors, etc.

A comprehensive enchiridion, non merely presenting PHPP usage, but besides foregrounding important subjects to be considered in Passive House design.

( Wolfgang Feist, 2007 )


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