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Passive housing has become popular for residential homes in Australia for its energy efficiency, environmental sustainability and low operating costs – but what about for new commercial builds? The commercial building market is quickly catching on to these benefits and adopting passive design elements in new constructions. Why should you consider passive house design for your commercial build? Passive house design considers the entire lifecycle of the building and incorporates building solutions that are better for the environment, the health your staff and your bank balance. There is less focus on conventional building techniques and technologies that waste fossil fuels and cost more to operate. It's that simple. When it comes to designing a commercial building, it pays to consider the costs beyond the short-term and during the design phase is where you can make all the difference. Installing solar panels or heating your office space from well-placed windows plays its part in reducing heating and cooling bills, but it is just the beginning. WHAT IS PASSIVE HOUSE DESIGN? Originating in Germany in the 1970s, the “Passivhaus” or Passive House design has a unique advantage over traditional buildings and finds a balance between form and function. Energy efficiency is a key feature in passive house design, consuming 90% less heating and cooling energy than a conventional building, and is tailored specifically to the location and geography of the site, sun direction, potential winds, existing greenery and shade, and repurposed or sustainable materials. The passive house principles - excellent thermal insulation, high-performance windows, thermal bridge-free construction, comfort self-ventilation with high heat recovery, and completely airtight – were once reserved exclusively for residential construction but can be easily adapted for commercial facilities as well. HEALTHY, COMFORTABLE SPACES An airtight building is essential and limits gaps and cracks helping to control the temperature in your building and avoiding draughts or air leaks. Leakage of air from the building is a major cause of heat loss, which leads to the use of expensive ducted heating systems throughout a building. High-performance 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 space in summer. Self-ventilating systems keeps air cold or warm, depending on the weather conditions, without the need for additional technology. The need for heaters to keep a space warm is gone, saving money using electrical appliances, while the continually filtered air let in by the ventilating systems reduces pollutants in the building, ideal for staff or customers with asthma or allergies. Heat-recovery ventilation not only improves the indoor air quality but can also reduce moisture and damp issues. 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 buildings and has travelled to Germany, the home of the Passive House, and across Europe to learn first-hand the best methods for building passive buildings in an Australian climate.

For expert advice on building your passive commercial space, talk to award-winning local builder Souter Built. Specialising in passive homes, heritage restorations, commercial and residential building, alterations, additions and renovations in Wollongong, the Illawarra, Sydney and the Southern Highlands.


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