In a nutshell, Passivhaus (or Passive House) is about building for thermal comfort – not too warm, not too cool – with minimal heating and clean, healthy air. The concept was born in Germany in the late 1980’s and the Passivhaus Institute (PHI) certifies buildings that meet this rigorous standard.
What makes Passivhaus great?
A Passivhaus building is one that is so energy efficient, it loses almost no warmth to the outside. Our Passivhaus homes barely need to be heated. In some cases, they need no heating at all. Mind blown!
Passivhaus homes make use of highly efficient air systems to make sure that clean air is being circulated through the building – way cleaner than the air we usually find in new-builds – without losing any expensive warmth. Not only does this benefit your lifestyle and pocket, it also means treading more lightly on the planet.
What’s it like?
Living in a Passivhaus is easy. The careful design and build process means that people who live in a Passivhaus really don’t need to think much about things like heating, ventilation or condensation. At Exeter City Living we have been working on our craft for over a decade and have found neat ways to exceed the standards of normal building developments and make our homes the stuff of the future. You still need to do your own cooking and tidying though, sorry about that.
Just imagine being able to use the mirror straight away after a shower without having to wipe any steam off; imagine hearing only quiet when you step in after a long day at work – no traffic, no seagulls; imagine air quality that benefits your health and design principles that can help you feel really rested when you wake…
All these thermal regulation features are great, but at some point in the day, we are going to need to open a door to the outside. Woosh – warm air out, cold air in. When the door opens, the carefully balanced temperature inside the house drops. But only a very little. The whole of the house is already at a steady, comfortable temperature. The surfaces of the floor, the inside of the windows, the socks you left on the stairs. It really doesn’t take much time for the incident of the open door to be forgotten.
Interestingly, the thermal insulation properties of the building mean that the personal body heat of whoever’s inside can help warm up the interior. This means, literally, that your dog can heat your home. Good dog.
But staying cool
Now you might ask, if the family terrier’s body heat can cause temperatures to rise subtly, what happens if the doors aren’t opened often enough? Or the sun shines in on a hot day and raises the temperature? This is where architects and developers at Exeter City Living have to get really clever. We plan windows, orientation, wall thickness, interior materials and form so that the risk of tipping the temperature over the comfort level is minimised. So, you won’t need to open windows and put fans on in the summer, and the dog can stay.
Passivhaus certification demands fresh air flow systems. When you make something that’s so well sealed, you need to think at a higher level about ventilation and clean air. So that’s what we do. In fact, we think way above the minimum required standards and make sure that our homes not only have constant fresh, clean air moving through them, we also design and build from day one with air flow, clean breathing, and many other healthy home factors in mind. We do this by blending Passivhaus with Baubiologie (Building Biology) principles, and it makes our homes among the most comfortable and healthy being built today.
We’ll tell you more about Baubiologie in our next blog. To make sure you don’t miss it, you can join our email list here and we’ll pop our blogs over to your inbox. Personally, we think you’ll find them fascinating!