PHPP 9 + designPH 1.1

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PHPP – the energy balance and Passive House planning tool

A Passive House is far more than the sum of its parts: precise planning is required in order to ensure that the components used work together to acheive the desired result. The Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) is the key design tool used when planning a Passive House and as such, serves as the basis of verification for the Passive House Standard. While there are other design tools on the market, it is the the PHPP’s high level of accuracy that sets it apart: energy balances can be calculated with the PHPP to an accuracy of +/- 0.5kWh!

Based for the large part on European norms, the PHPP makes use of numerous tested and approved calculations to yield a building’s the heating, cooling and primary energy demand, as well as its tendency to overheat in the warmer months. While the PHPP was developed specifically for Passive Houses, it is a design tool that may also be used for other buildings, including retrofits of historical buildings.

The new PHPP 9 includes a whole range of advantages such as:

•   Validated calculation algorithms for cooling and dehumidification in both hot and hot and humid climates
•   Additional climate data sets for a wide range of new locations across the globe
•   Additional PV, heat pump and ground heat exchange calculation sheets as well as the estimation of the solar contribution to space heating demand – supplements that increase the PHPP’s suitability for building sustainability assessments
•   A new components sheet containing PHI Certified Passive House Components along with their performance data, facilitating data entry for certified products
•   Revised data selection menus and improved compatibility with MAC and OpenOffice
•   Improved connectivity and accessibility via PHI’s external import and export macro

The new features in the PHPP 9 also include innovative options, for example for heat recovery from shower water or for profitability calculations.The practical use of the tool is facilitated by means of automatic verification and plausibility checks. Different options for a particular measure can now be entered in one PHPP file and tested with reference to their respective effects. In this way it is possible to depict improvement in efficiency due to individual refurbishment steps. In addition, the EnerPHit criteria for retrofits can now be applied internationally without restriction, with building component requirements suiting relevant climate zones.

The new 3D modelling tool for the PHPP: designPH

The new designPH plugin has been developed by the Passive House Institute to provide a 3D model interface for entering building geometry into PHPP. The benefits of the tool are two-fold; firstly it will simplify the process of entering data into PHPP and secondly it will provide preliminary feedback on the performance of the design within SketchUp.

Analysis process

The model geometry is marked-up with thermal properties, with the aid of some automatic analysis functions. The tool uses an heuristic algorithm to infer element types, temperature zones and area groups, in order to save input time, but these can be over-ridden by the user if required. The external heat loss areas and the treated floor area are collected and formatted for export to PHPP. Each window is analysed to identify external shading objects and these are exported as input parameters for each of the three key shading types in PHPP (reveal, overhang and horizontal object).

Now available: designPH 1.0

design present analyse

A 3D interface for PHPP

The export function saves model data to a PPP file, the interchange format developed by the Passive House Institute, which can then be imported into a PHPP model. Through this process, a 3D digital model can easily be converted to a PHPP workbook. After importing a model, the primary data on the Areas, Windows & Shading sheets will be mostly complete, enabling a result for specific space heat demand to be calculated quickly, without the need for much direct data-entry. The advantages of this approach over entering the geometry directly into PHPP are, firstly that it should save time on data-entry and secondly that it is possible to visually verify in the 3D model that all the heat-loss surfaces have been correctly taken into account.

An iterative design tool

An additional feature of the tool is that a simplified energy balance is provided within the 3D modelling environment. This facilitates a more effective iterative design process, allowing the user to get an immediate idea of the building’s energy performance, and rule out poorly performing design options, before exporting to PHPP to fine-tune the design and make the verification.

User interface

The user interface provides access to the functions of the tool via the standard SketchUp application menus, context menus and graphical toolbars. The details of the model geometry and energy balance calculations can be interrogated using the web-dialog windows provided. These also allow the components library and other model properties to be edited.

Summary of features

  • Work with a new or existing SketchUp model (some simplifications may be required)
  • Automatic recognition of temperature zones, element types and area groups
  • Schedules of areas, windows / doors and TFA components and recognition of external shading objects
  • Rendering of heat-loss areas to indicate their area group or status
  • Export geometry and shading data to PHPP via PPP file format, with conversion of elements to meaningful
    dimensions and quantities that can be manipulated in PHPP
  • Tools to insert and edit window & door components, with user-defined properties or from standard libraries
  • Simple energy balance within the tool and warnings about high-levels of glazing that would lead to overheating