Passive House + Renewables
The basis for Nearly Zero Energy Buildings
Through a focus on meticulous planning combined with quality building components, superior insulation, ventilation with heat recovery, thermal bridge free design and airtight construction, Passive House buildings reach levels of energy efficiency and comfort that are practically unheard of in conventional buildings. Adherence to the strict Passive House criteria result in buildings with superior air quality and comfortable indoor temperatures year round that use up to 90% less energy than typical building stock, or less than 1.5 litres of oil or 1.5 cubic meters of gas to heat one square meter of living space for an entire year. Vast energy savings have also been demonstrated in warm climates where conventional buildings typically require active cooling.
Making renewables feasible
Energy from renewable sources is not unlimited. Each wood pellet can only be used once and once used, is not available for others, who may have to rely on fossil fuels. The same holds true for each unit of the sun's energy hitting earth. An emphasis on the use of renewables to power our building sector can thus only be sustainable if we focus on reducing our energy use through energy efficiency first. Passive House does just that: the extreme levels of energy efficiency reached by Passive House buildings means that their minimal remaining energy demand can be covered, economically, by a wide variety of stable and sustainable renewable energy sources.
Investing in energy efficiency first also makes renewables feasible in another sense: especially in urban areas, buildings often have restricted roof and facade areas on which such technologies can be applied. Highly efficient buildings need less energy and can thus do more with the renewables placed on small surface areas, making even group installations for the remaining demand instead of individual installations for each house/building all the more practical.
Tried and true
Over the last two decades, the Passive House Standard has gained rapidly in popularity and has proven to be a reliable approach in an ever increasing range of climates. With an estimated 40,000 units built worldwide as of 2012, an increasing number of EU regions and municipalities are taking notice and beginning to incorporate Passive House into their plans to reach the EU’s goals for 2020.