Derived from the German word ‘Passivhaus’, Passive House is a set of design principles used to create thermally stable, energy-efficient and comfortable buildings for future occupants. A voluntary building standard, the Passive House concept can be applied anywhere, regardless of weather or climate conditions.
Passive House concepts are not to be confused with ‘Solar Passive’ concepts. Solar Passive design principles rely heavily on the collection of winter sunlight by maximising northern sun exposure and the use of thermal mass to keep that heat inside the building.
Designed to work with any architecture, a Passive House can be lightweight, any shape or size, and even without solar exposure. Passive House buildings are thermally insulated, have an airtight building envelope, incorporate high performance windows, use mechanised energy recovery ventilation (ERV) systems and feature a thermal bridge-free construction.
The airtight building envelope ensures that unless the triple-glazed windows or doors are opened, the occupants will be shielded from cold, heat, rain, wind or noise inside the building.
Since Passive House buildings barely lose heat, solar heat gain control for windows is paramount during the summer. This calls for the use of strategic shading solutions such as blinds, screens or shutters to keep the interiors comfortably cool, instead of eaves or solar control glazing (tinted glazing), which are ineffective and cannot be adjusted.
The ERV system supplies fresh air to the entire house during weather periods when windows and doors are better not opened for thermal or humidity reasons. When building to the Passive House standard, conventional heating and cooling systems are usually not required to be integrated with the ERV system.