Passive House Key Design Principles
Passive House is a holistic construction certification standard, allowing Certified Passive House professionals flexibility to determine the most suitable building geometry based on usage and location. Passive buildings are thus comprised of a set of design principles used to attain a quantifiable and rigorous level of energy efficiency within a specific quantifiable comfort level under a “fabric first” design philosophy. To that end, a passive house building is designed and built in accordance with five building-science principles:
Passive House (High Performance) Windows
Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery
Thermal Bridge Free Construction
Passive House Criteria
Passive House design principles are met via quantifiable Passive House Criteria, a series of minimum performance requirements to achieve certification.
Annual Space Heating Demand / Heating Load
Annual Space Cooling/Dehumidification Demand / Load
Annual Primary Energy Demand
Indoor Air Quality
Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) Software
In order to determine a building’s performance to the Passive House building standard, you must use the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) software.
PHPP allows a building to be defined based on its individual elements. This allows architects and engineers to study the impact of design changes whilst continuously monitoring the likelihood of meeting the Passive House criteria.
Thoroughly validated against measured performance data of real buildings in various climates, the energy demand predicted reflects actual energy consumption to address ‘The Performance Gap’ commonly experience in predicted and operational energy usage.
To assist in ensuring an accurate incorporation of the proposed building geometry, and for early stage concept analysis, a Sketch-up plugin, designpH is available. Here, you can draw your building in sketch-up and then import the geometry into PHPP, saving time and allowing the building to be visually represented in the modelling process.
The Passive House Certification process
Buildings meeting the strict Passive House certification criteria can be certified as Passive House buildings by any of the Passive House Institute accredited Building Certifiers operative worldwide. Locate your local Passive House Certifiers and other professionals here.
APHA recommend contacting a Passive House Certifier early on in the planning process, where any problems identified can be easily corrected at this point in time. In principle, certification can also be applied for after completion of the building.
As a rule, all energy-relevant planning documents and technical data of the construction products are submitted before the start of construction work. After careful checking and comparison with the energy balance calculation, the certifier will provide information about any necessary corrections.
After completion of the construction, any changes in the planning will be updated and documents relating to construction will be checked during the final inspection.
The Passive House Certification process
As an independent authority, the Passive House Institute tests and certifies products based on their suitability for use in Passive Houses. Products that carry the “Certified Passive House Components” certificate have been tested according to uniform criteria; they are comparable in terms of their specific values, and are of excellent quality regarding energy efficiency. Their use facilitates the designer’s task and significantly contributes to ensuring the faultless functioning of the resulting Passive House.
The PHI has set up a database listing certified products for the following building components:
- wall and construction systems
- floor slab insulation systems
- roof parapet and balcony connections
- façade anchors
- window frames
- window connections
- front doors and sliding doors
- post and rail façades
- roof windows and skylights
- roller shutters and external blinds
- mechanical ventilation systems
- compact heat pump units
- exhaust systems