high performance energy efficiency
The Passive House certification issued by the Passivhaus Institut of Darmstadt, Germany, represents the future of energy efficient building. A certified Passive House is one that remains comfortable in all seasons without employing an active heating or cooling system.
It is one of the highest achievable standards in building energy efficiency, and we are proud to be on the forefront of the Passive Movement here in Italy.
Frequently Asked Questions about Passive House:
For more information, please read the relevant articles listed below the questions (these are being added as we write articles on our blog).
1. A house or building without a heating system? How is that possible?
A Passive House doesn’t need a heating system of any kind because the building envelope allows for very little heat loss.
- The main difference between a Passive House and a Near or Net Zero Energy House (3/7/2013)
- Passive House: What is a “passive” building? (5/27/2012)
2. Why is it better to invest in the building envelope, as opposed to the energy systems of a house or building?
Today there is a lot of talk about renewables: photovoltaic, wind, geothermal. Everyone asks which one is the best value, the most ecological and economical? A Passive building is removed from this discussion because it requires so little energy that an expensive renewable energy system is not necessary. This means that the building is much simpler to use and has associated maintenance costs that are much lower.
- What is a ‘thermal bridge’? (8/13/2013)
- Energy effiency retrofit: external insulation or new doors and windows? (7/2/2013)
- What is the ‘thermal envelope’ of a building? (5/31/2012)
3. Does a Passive House cost more than a traditional house?
It depends how you calculate the cost of a building. If you are only considering construction costs, yes, a Passive House costs a small percentage more than a traditional house. However, once you start calculating maintenance and utilities costs for the life of the house, a Passive House quickly becomes much less expensive.
4. Besides houses, can other types of buildings be Passive?
Yes, there are many examples of Passive schools, libraries, churches, offices, etc.
5. What is the architectural style of a Passive House or Building?
Whatever you like! Building a house to the Passive standard does not mean that you have to adhere to one particular design aesthetic.
- What does a Passive House look like? (9/10/2013)
6. Can I renovate my existing house or building into a Passive House?
Yes! Many Passive buildings are, in fact, renovations or restructures.
7. How important is the orientation of a Passive House?
A Passive House heats itself with passive energy from the sun, so the orientation with respect to the sun can have a very big impact on the amount energy available. This does not mean, however, that it is impossible to construct a Passive House without the ideal orientation. It just means that other considerations need to be made in the calculations.
8. Are Passive Houses made of wood or masonry?
Both and neither. The standard does not prescribe a specific building material.
9. Why does a Passive House need mechanical ventilation?
Mechanical ventilation guarantees comfort and healthy indoor air quality by exchanging dirty or moist air (such as in the bathroom or kitchen) for freshly filtered air.
10. Can I still open the windows?
Of course! Just as in any normal house or building, the windows may be fully operable.
11. Why is it a good idea to complete the certification process?
(1) The certification process offers a certain set of guidelines for the contractor to follow to ensure quality of construction (2) Having the certification will increase the market value of your house or building
- Why an Italian regional energy certification is not enough to guarantee the quality of a building. (3/29/2013)
Some of our articles about Passive House:
- The potential benefit of an early ‘Blower Door Test’. (1/31/2014) - In December we ran a 'Type B' Blower Door Test on our CasaClima Class A project, "Conte Re", under construction near Albinea (in the province of Reggio Emilia, Italy). Many of our colleagues wondered why we decided to run the test so early in the construction process. Here is a brief overview of the benefits...
- The importance of accurate climate data (11/25/2013) - Whether you are designing new constructions or deep energy retrofits, the basis for an energy efficient design is an understanding of the climate that you are working in. Local climate has has always been one of the main factors shaping vernacular architectural design throughout the world, and, ultimately, the goal of any building is to protect the occupant from external climate factors. Therefore, an effective thermal envelope of a building should bridge the gap between the desired health and comfort conditions for the occupants and external weather conditions.
- What does a Passive House look like? (9/10/2013) - After you've done your research, evaluated your options, and settled on passive design as a valid and worthy goal for your dream home, you usually arrive at this very important question: "But what will my passive house look like?!" The possibilities are limitless! Almost. Why almost?
- Passive house: new construction or renovation? (9/3/2013) - In our blog, we are dedicating a large number of articles to deep energy retrofits, on one hand, and Passive Houses on the other. However, these two topics are not necessarily distinct from one another: here, we explain why.
- How do you define the “health and comfort” of building occupants? (8/27/2013) - We often refer to the “health and comfort” of building occupants. What does this mean? An ideal building would be one that you wouldn’t notice or feel, one that would allow the body to exist in a healthy and comfortable state and at a comfortable temperature, or even one which would improve your sense of wellbeing upon entering. How do architects know how to design for your comfort? How can that be measured?
- Mold and condensation problems (8/20/2013) - Mold and condensation on the interior surfaces of a house's thermal envelope is a self-evident proof of poor quality and lack of comfort. It can happen on walls, roof, slabs and so on. These phenomena are symptoms of degrading building quality, and have immediate direct consequences on indoor air quality, health of the occupants and the overall comfort inside the house.
- What is a ‘thermal bridge’? (8/13/2013) - In our articles, as we write about Passive Houses, thermal comfort and energy efficiency, we often assign great importance to the term 'thermal bridge'. We'll try to explain here what all the fuss is about.
- Students from Boston Architectural College visit to discuss sustainability in Reggio Emilia (8/7/2013) - Last Thursday we had the pleasure of hosting a group of students from Boston Architectural College for a day of site visits and discussions about the ways in which modern and sustainable construction techniques are making their way into the traditional setting of rural Italy.
- Three examples of Italian green roofs that reinforce the natural landscape. (7/8/2013) - We are interested in the idea of using green roofs in landscape heritage areas to reinforce the remaining historic structures, while returning all newly developed surface area into natural vegetation and effectively hiding the new building in the landscape.
- ‘La Casa Passiva in Italia’ (Passive House in Italy) LinkedIn group passes 1000 members (6/18/2013) - We are happy to announce that just after the second anniversary of its creation, our LinkedIn group ‘La Casa Passiva in Italia’ (Passive House in Italy) passed 1000 members. Considering that the Italian government has only recently adopted the European Directive on Near Energy Zero Buildings, there is still much work to be done as […]