Sustainability and energy efficiency are at the forefront of innovation in the home-building industry. Passive House is a voluntary building standard that is picking up steam, and becoming more popular as the demand for high-performance grows. Passive House is the culmination of around 50 years of Canadian and German Building science. The theory originated in the 1970s in the Canadian Midwest, while the development of the formal building standard came about in Germany in the 1980s. The Passive House standard represents a revolutionary approach to building design, emphasizing ultra-low energy consumption, superior comfort, and a reduced environmental footprint. Let’s chat about the key principles and benefits that make a Passive House approach a game-changer in sustainable custom home construction:
What is a Passive House?
The Passive House building standard sets a clear and simple goal to provide the highest level of occupant comfort using the least amount of energy. This high-performance approach recognizes the house as a system and surpasses outdated home-building conventions in both design and construction. With more than 37 million square feet of certified buildings, its adoption continues to grow exponentially in Canada and worldwide.
Key Principles of Passive House Construction:
- Superior Insulation: Passive Houses feature thick insulation layers, like a thick wool blanket, reducing heat transfer between the interior and exterior. This insulation is not only applied to walls but extends to the roof, floors, and even windows, creating a well-insulated and airtight building envelope.
- Airtight Construction: Preventing air leakage is crucial in Passive House design. Airtight construction ensures that the building envelope remains sealed, minimizing heat loss and optimizing energy efficiency. This meticulous sealing is complemented by controlled ventilation systems.
- High-Performance Windows and Doors: Passive Houses often incorporate triple-pane windows and insulated doors to minimize heat loss and maximize solar gain. These high-performance openings play a key role in maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature without overreliance on heating or cooling systems.
- Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV): A ‘whole home fresh air system’ is an integral part of Passive House design. These systems capture and exchange heat between the outgoing and incoming air, ensuring a constant supply of fresh, filtered air while recovering the thermal energy from exhaust air. We take it up a notch by using an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV), that also recovers moisture from the air being exchanged to maintain comfortable humidity levels in the home.
- Thermal Bridge-Free Design: Avoiding thermal bridges (which are weak points in the building envelope) contributes to pleasant, even interior temperatures while eliminating moisture damage and improving energy efficiency.
Benefits of Passive House Construction:
Why build a Passive House? If you’re planning to build the house of your dreams, you deserve a home that is not only built beautifully; you deserve:
- Consistent, year-round comfort, whether it’s 20 below or hot and humid.
- Quiet stillness to escape from the world outside, rest and recharge.
- Healthy indoor air quality, free of pollutants, allergens dust, and mould
- Generational resilience and durability that can be passed on to your children.
- Sustainable investment for your family and the planet
For more than three decades, Passive House buildings have delivered this value to their occupants. Rest assured, you are investing wisely in your family’s well-being, saving money on rising energy costs, and contributing to a more sustainable future.
Passive House construction represents a significant shift in how we approach building design, by maximizing comfort and minimizing energy use. As the global community increasingly prioritizes sustainability, Passive House standards are going to play a role in shaping the future of home construction, offering a model for environmentally responsible and energy-efficient buildings. We at Frontiers Design Build believe in this philosophy and have chosen Passive House to be our preferred approach to new home construction.