Certified Passivhaus Consultant

In 2012 I travelled to New Zealand to take part in training for the German Passivhaus Institute’s system of creating ultra low energy buildings and, following examination, was awarded the status of Certified Passivhaus Consultant.

The system is holistic in approach and must be implemented right from the start of the design process. It starts with consideration of form and shape to minimise unwanted losses or gains through excessive surface area, the orientation to enable winter solar gains, the window placement and shading to reduce unwanted solar gains in summer, the selection of a construction process to reduce thermal bridging that will allow heat or cold to pass through the thermal envelope as well as the virtual elimination of air leakage combined with the provision of constant fresh air ventilation to eliminate any chance of ‘Sick building Syndrome’.

‘Super Insulation’ has been explored in the colder conditions in the northern hemisphere for many years and has been developed by Wolfgang Feist and Bo Adamson since the late 1980’s. In recent years the dramatic benefits of the system have been trialled in warmer climates and have clearly shown that the science works just as well in keeping heat out as well as keeping heat in.

An extension of ‘Solar Passive Design’, it is referred to in German as ‘PASSIVHAUS‘ – ‘Passive House‘ in English. The system dictates the rate of energy usage for heating, cooling, and total usage, air leakage in relation to volume of the house and eliminating thermal bridging (this is where structural elements pass right through a wall and allow heat to leak through) rather than the thermal losses and gains of the star rating systems. Homes can be certified as PASSIVHAUS compliant if they achieve the required standard.

passivhausAir change is required to maintain healthy conditions, eliminate mould growth and remove volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). This system requires the inclusion of minimal rates of fresh air ventilation throughout the building and the inclusion of a heat recovery mechanical ventilation units (HRMV) to temper the incoming air with the heat from the air being expelled.

Because of the high levels of insulation and very high technical specification of windows and doors only minimal energy is required to maintain very comfortable indoor conditions even in areas with extreme temperature ranges – both hot and cold.

Widely accepted and becoming mandatory in Europe there are now over 40,000 certified buildings worldwide.With the concept progressing in New Zealand and a number of certified consultants & designers in Australia it will not be long before those interested in energy efficiency & the use of science of Solar Passive Design rather than the rule of thumb will see more Passivhaus certified projects in Australia.

If you would like to explore the possibility of a Passivhaus Project of your own, contact me now to begin this exciting journey.

Some Useful Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passivhaus

http://www.passiv.de/07_eng/index_e.html

http://www.passivhaus.org.uk/

http://www.aecb.net/passivhaustrust/index.html

http://www.passivehouse.us/passiveHouse/PassiveHouseInfo.html

http://passivehousecal.org/what-passive-house

http://www.passivebuildings.ca/Default.aspx?pageId=592384