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The Keys To Passive House Standard

The Keys To Passive House Standard

Energy efficiency, sustainability and comfort

In the last 15 years we have seen how the demand for self-sufficient or low-consumption houses has increased, due both to the advance of new technologies and to the development of new materials, as well as to the intention that has gradually permeated society to generate less pollution.
To face a project of passive house it is important to know the characteristics of the climate in which our project will be located to adapt the materials used and the elements in charge of functions like providing isolation or generating energy.
Due to the multiple environmental factors that affect the habitability and energy generation of a building, it would not be correct to apply the same strategies to preserve the thermal comfort of the interior of a house in the Canary Islands as it would be for a house in Canada.

What do we look for in a Passive house? The Passive house standard aims to reduce the heating and cooling needs of the building to a minimum, using a series of strategies that we will discuss later. The little energy needed to cover the reduced demand of the building can be easily obtained from renewable energy self-supply systems, such as photovoltaic panels. What are the practical strategies of a passive house?
1.Correct thermal nsulation: We are looking for a low thermal transmittance in walls, roofs and floors, so we must control that the building envelope is correctly thermally insulated to avoid these transmittances in both winter and summer. In this case, the thickness of the insulation will vary depending on the climate of the region. An example of good thermal insulation would be the Titania building in Madrid (DMDV Arquitectos) where the entire building envelope has been insulated including the foundation.

2. Suppression of thermal bridges:
The care of the work in the union points as axes and joints is fundamental to avoid the thermal bridges, points where we would lose or gain undesired energy. The meeting of walls in complicated angles, or the joints between construction elements, are points where the surface temperature can be affected with respect to the rest of the house. One of the undesirable results of the presence of thermal bridges is the appearance of mold.
3. Openings: Achieving a good thermal envelope is not everything, since there is a large surface area of it that is exposed to the outside through doors, windows, skylights, etc… When we refer to openings we are talking about both the glass and the carpentry that holds it. The carpentry should have high insulation values. For our climate, we use a glass that consists of two air chambers, and three glasses. To increase its insulation, one of the air chambers can be filled with Argon, and at the same time insulating films can be placed on the glass to counteract unwanted losses or gains from heat or cold.

The Keys To Passive House Standard
4. Mechanical ventilation: As far as energy conservation is concerned, we realize that inside a house many agents are involved in energy generation, such as tenants or household appliances, energy that until recently was wasted. Mechanical ventilation proposes to integrate a device in the building that works as a ventilation plant and has two objectives: the first one is to force the extraction of the air to renew it and thus guarantee the quality of the interior air; the second one, through the heat recovery, to minimize the climatic changes in the interior when renewing the air.
The Keys To Passive House Standard
The heat recovery units work by means of an exhaust fan (draws the air in), a supply fan (blows the air out) and a heat exchanger, through which the warm air gives way to the cooler air. The correct application of these tips will reduce our building’s dependence on heating or cooling systems to a minimum, thus guaranteeing good air quality for its users and a commitment to the environment, which is becoming increasingly necessary.
5. Airtightness. The airtightness of the building envelope is responsible for maintaining stable climatic conditions and preventing maladjustments due to temperature changes and outside air currents. To achieve this tightness, special care must be taken in the areas most exposed to the outside. When windows and doors are not properly sealed, these energy losses can occur.
The so-called Blower Door test is used to measure the tightness, which consists of producing a difference in pressure between the inside and outside through a fan placed in the main door. To meet the standard, the result must be less than 0.6 air renewals per hour at a pressure differential of 50 Pa.


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