Paarhammer  doors and triple glazed windows were used in one of Australia’s first passive houses built recently in Castlemaine, Victoria.  

A movement that first began in Germany in the late 80s, passive houses are ultra-low energy buildings, designed and built with a low or even negligible ecological footprint. There are currently about 25,000 to 30,000 passive houses all over the world.  

One of the requirements of the passive house standard is very little energy consumption (less than 120kWh/m² per year) and very low air infiltration.  

Owner-builder Karl Albrecht explains that Paarhammer triple glazed windows featuring two air gaps of 12mm each fit the bill perfectly as they reduce heat loss (or gain) by up to 78% with an air infiltration of a low 0.05, making them extremely energy efficient.    

Paarhammer windows are made from timber, by itself a very bad conductor, preventing temperature on the outside from being transferred to the inside and vice versa. Paarhammer has developed, tested and got approved, Flame Zone BAL-FZ windows and doors made in timber.  

Paarhammer triple glazed windows used for the project were made from Victorian Ash timber and factory glazed. All windows have external shutters and a pergola on the northern part helps shade the house in summer.  

Designed by Danilo Paglialonga together with owner Karl, the passive house was built to provide an affordable home that could meet the environmental challenges of a changing climate at minimal cost to the planet. Key strategies followed to achieve this objective included low embodied energy, renewable resources, recyclability, minimal waste, and minimal need for ongoing heating and cooling.  

Key features of the passive house:  

  • Grid-connected photovoltaic system produces around 6500 KWh per year, almost double the requirement
  • Heat exchanger utilises stable underground temperatures to heat and cool the home
  • 85,000-litre rainwater tank
  • All drainage is designed to flow to the tank
  • Plumbing throughout the house separates grey and black water with the grey water reused in the garden
  • All finishes and paints with low VOC content
  • All external walls filled with R6.0 glass wool insulation with an additional layer of R2.0 in the internal walls for sound proofing
  • Heavily insulated roof consisting of two layers of reflective sarking and R7.0 glass wool insulation used with layers of Oriented Strand Board (made from waste timber) to provide thermal efficiency
  • Sustainably sourced materials used extensively in the construction including mountain ash radial timber for the external walls with OSB-lined and I-Beam portal frames
  • All joins caulked with great care to draught-proof the construction and create an airtight building envelope
Low air infiltration of windows and doors is a must in passive houses as excessive air leakage leads to unnecessary heat loss or gain and discomfort. Paarhammer products use a multipoint locking system for windows and doors, which is almost airtight and increases the safety aspect as well. Low air exchange also means higher energy efficiency and much lower energy bills.

Passionate about sustainability and energy efficiency, Mr Albrecht comments that his passive house uses 80% less energy measured against an equivalently sized 5-star home, which he is able to achieve with the quality of Paarhammer doors and windows.