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An introduction to passivhaus standard

An energy-efficient building construction standard that originated in Germany

An introduction to passivhaus standard

History

Is an energy-efficient building construction standard that originated in Germany in the 1990s. It was developed by a group of researchers led by Wolfgang Feist, a physicist and architect who was looking for a way to build highly energy-efficient buildings.

The first Passivhaus building was built in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1991, and since then the standard has been gaining popularity around the world. In 1996 the Passivhaus Institute was founded, which aims to promote the Passivhaus standard and the construction of highly energy efficient buildings throughout the world. Since then, thousands of Passivhaus buildings have been built around the world, in both hot and cold climates.

The Passivhaus standard has proven to be highly effective in reducing the energy consumption of buildings and therefore in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, Passivhaus buildings offer a high level of thermal and acoustic comfort for their occupants, making them an attractive option for those looking for a more sustainable way of living or working.

Principles

The Passivhaus standard is based on some fundamental principles:

  • High-quality thermal insulation
  • Absence of thermal bridges
  • Air tightness
  • Controlled mechanical ventilation
  • Heat recovery and passive solar design

Passivhaus and high-quality thermal insulation

One of the fundamental characteristics of Passivhaus is the use of high-quality thermal insulation to reduce heat loss inside the home and reduce the need for heating and cooling.

Thermal insulation is a key component in Passivhaus housing design, and is used in walls, ceilings, floors, and windows. Commonly used insulation materials include rock wool, fiberglass, cellulose, and extruded polystyrene. In addition, special attention is paid to the quality of the installation to minimize air leaks and ensure high energy efficiency.

The goal of high-quality thermal insulation is to reduce the need for heating and cooling, which in turn reduces energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, proper thermal insulation can also improve indoor air quality and reduce outside noise.

Passivhaus and the absence of thermal bridges

In a Passivhaus building, special emphasis is placed on avoiding thermal bridges, which are the points in the structure where the greatest heat loss occurs due to poor connection or insulation. The presence of thermal bridges can significantly reduce the energy efficiency of the building and therefore increase heating and cooling costs.

To avoid thermal bridges, a detailed study of the structure is carried out and specific measures are implemented during construction. High-quality materials are used and a correct connection between them is ensured, without interruptions that could compromise the energy efficiency of the building. In addition, special construction techniques can be used to minimize the occurrence of thermal bridges, such as the placement of thermal insulation throughout the building envelope, the use of materials with special thermal characteristics and the careful design of construction details.

Eliminating thermal bridges is one of the keys to achieving the high energy efficiency standards of a Passivhaus building. By ensuring a continuous and uninterrupted thermal envelope, heat loss is significantly reduced and thermal comfort inside the building is improved.

Passivhaus and air tightness

Airtightness is one of the fundamental principles of Passivhaus construction. Airtightness refers to a building's ability to prevent uncontrolled air leakage through joints, windows, doors, outlets, and other structural elements.

In Passivhaus constructions, a careful construction technique is used to ensure that the housing envelope is as airtight as possible, to minimize uncontrolled air leakage and prevent the entry of cold air from outside.

To achieve this air tightness, high quality materials are used and extensive testing is carried out during construction to detect and repair any unwanted air leaks. In addition, a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery is used to guarantee the quality of the indoor air.

Airtightness is essential in Passivhaus constructions, as it helps to reduce energy consumption and maintain a constant temperature inside the home. In addition, it also improves indoor air quality by reducing the entry of outdoor pollutants and allergens.

Passivhaus and controlled mechanical ventilation

One of the fundamental principles of the Passivhaus standard is the use of controlled mechanical ventilation systems with heat recovery. In a conventional house, ventilation is usually natural or forced, which can result in heat loss in winter or excessive heat input in summer.

On the other hand, with controlled mechanical ventilation, stale air is extracted from the house and fresh air is introduced from the outside through a heat recovery ventilation system. This system allows fresh air to be heated or cooled depending on the season, using the heat or cold of the stale air being extracted. In this way, energy loss is minimized and a healthy indoor environment is maintained.

In addition, controlled mechanical ventilation allows you to control the level of humidity in the house, preventing the formation of mold and improving the quality of indoor air. It also reduces outside noise and maintains a quiet and comfortable indoor environment.

In summary, controlled mechanical ventilation with heat recovery is a key element in the Passivhaus standard, since it helps to minimize energy loss, improve indoor air quality and create a comfortable and healthy environment in the house.

Passivhaus and heat recovery and passive solar design

Passivhaus focuses on the use of passive solar energy and heat recovery to reduce the reliance on mechanical heating and cooling systems in buildings. This is achieved through intelligent design and the selection of construction materials that maximize the energy efficiency of the building.

Passive solar design involves optimizing the orientation of the building, the use of large windows and shading elements to harness solar energy in winter and reduce heat gain in summer. On the other hand, heat recovery is done by a heat exchanger in the mechanical ventilation system, which recovers heat from the exhaust air and uses it to preheat the incoming fresh air.

These features allow Passivhaus buildings to have extremely low energy consumption and superior indoor air quality by eliminating the need for traditional air conditioning systems that can cause air quality problems. Additionally, controlled mechanical ventilation with heat recovery significantly reduces energy bills and the building's carbon footprint.

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