BUILDING A PASSIVE HOUSE – THE FUTURE OF SUSTAINABLE HOUSING
Building a home is an exciting time but many of the big decisions need to be made early in the design process. Modern or traditional? How many rooms? And what about the sustainability of your home? With advancements in design and materials and a greater understanding of ‘green living’, adopting sustainable design elements in your home is becoming the norm. But what if your entire home could be sustainable and self-sufficient? From its design, the building material and how it’s constructed, to the long-term energy usage in your home. Well, that’s called a Certified Passive House - a house that meets a rigorous design standard renowned for increasing energy efficiency and comfort, while being healthy and sustainable too.
WHAT IS A PASSIVE HOUSE?
Originating in Germany, the “Passivhaus” or Passive House design has a unique advantage over traditional housing and finds a balance between form and function. Energy efficiency is a key feature in passive homes, consuming 90% less heating and cooling energy than a conventional house, as is the desire to develop the most suitable building based on the location and geography of the site, sun direction, potential winds, existing greenery, and repurposed or sustainable materials. Passive House building standards are scientifically-proven and well-recognised across the world, particularly in Europe, but it’s not limited to homes in a cool climate. Excellent insulation provides a thermal separation from the outside environment and works effectively in both hot and cold conditions. Any building can be recognised as a passive if it is designed and built with five principles in mind.
THE FIVE PASSIVE HOUSE PRINCIPLES
To be certified, a passive house must include five key design principles excellent thermal insulation, high-performance windows, thermal bridge-free construction, comfort self-ventilation with high heat recovery, and be completely airtight. An airtight building is essential and limits gaps and cracks helping to control the temperature in your home and avoiding draughts or air leaks. Glazed windows (double or triple glazed) are critical and adapted to each space and orientation, allowing the sun to stream in during winter but not overheat the home in summer. Self-ventilating systems keeps air cold or warm, depending on the weather conditions, without the need for additional technology. Home owners can avoid the need for heaters to keep a home warm, saving money using electrical appliances, while the continually filtered air let in by the ventilating systems reduces pollutants in the home, ideal for people with asthma or allergies. “Once you start looking more and more into this technology, you realise how unhealthy we're living and how bad it is. Instead of having a gas heater, which pollutes your house with the carbon monoxide or a gas cook top, these elements aren't allowed in a passive house because it's not healthy.” – Adam Souter, Souter Built
BUILDING A PASSIVE HOUSE
Passive house certification can be applied to new and established buildings, although is best suited to new constructions. If you’re planning to build a home with passive house principles, it is best to get advice early on in your project. The great news? You don’t need to travel far to find an expert passive house builder in the Illawarra. The award-winning Souter Built & is based in Wollongong and the region’s only Certified Passive House builder. Master Builder Adam Souter has a passion for creating high-quality and sustainable homes and has travelled to Germany, the home of the Passive House, and across Europe to learn first-hand the best methods for building passive houses in an Australian climate. “Now is a great time to build a Passive House and create an efficient and sustainable home for you and your family. You’ll save money, it’s good for the environment and most importantly, good for you and your family’s health”.
For expert advice on building your passive home, talk to award-winning local builder Souter Built. Specialising in passive houses, heritage restorations, commercial and residential building, alterations, additions and renovations in Wollongong, the Illawarra, Sydney and the Southern Highlands.