When it comes to building Passive Homes, the materials that go into it are just as important as the features that make this housing type so popular— from ventilation to insulation, creating a home that conforms to the Passive House standard requires the right building materials for energy efficiency and comfort!
What Is A Passive House?
To begin, let’s go over what exactly a Passive House is— because to understand the building blocks of these buildings, we need to know about how they started and what Passive Houses are!
Originating from German physicist Wolfgang Feist’s “Passivhaus“ or Passive House concept, the Passive House movement has been reinvigorated from the early 1990s. From the initial Passivhaus Institute (PHI), many outshoots have sprung up around the world to facilitate Passive House construction, including the Australian Passive House Association.
From there, Passive House buildings have become increasingly popular because they are energy efficient, with superior ventilation, and provide thermal insulation.
In particular, great insulation and ventilation are hallmarks of a Passive House, which makes it function essentially like a giant thermos— regulating heating and cooling while maintaining high air quality without air leakage.
What Are The Requirements Of A Passive House?
According to the International Passive House Association, there are particular requirements that a building needs to have in order to be classed as a certified Passive House. And this necessarily influences the entire Passive House Planning package and building process, as well as the materials used.
Passive House standard requirements to be met include the following considerations:
- Air-tightness requires no gaps in the building.
- Energy use must be reduced and renewed.
- Humidity levels must not exceed 12 g/kg over 20% of occupation.
- Interior temperatures must be kept below 25°C for more than 10% of occupation.
- Space heating and cooling must be low and renewable.
And while these specifications to meet a Passive House standard might seem complex, we will see how Passive House construction and building materials reflect these rules!
What Are The Key Features Of A Passive House?
Because of the need for air-tightness, better insulation, and intuitive ventilation, Passive House design uses different materials to get the job done. The key to figuring out how to build a Passive House comes with understanding exactly what those materials need to accomplish, including the five fundamental features of Passive Homes.
Without drafts, very little energy goes to waste when heating and cooling a Passive House’s compact shape. Not only does this lead to fresh air quality thanks to the ventilation system, but also provides significantly reduced energy bills!
Overall, Passive House dwellings have better quality windows than normal buildings or an average house. This is important to prevent heat loss during the cold months, as well as hot air from seeping inside during the summer, among other factors.
Thermal insulating is a must for keeping temperatures regulated throughout a home, and it’s even more essential for a Passive House. With high-quality insulation, the building is wrapped in a protective layer that prevents loss of heat from the inside.
Ventilation With Heat Recovery
Ventilation is one of the key tenets of Passive House design, because keeping your home full of fresh air without causing temperature levels to fluctuate is important.
And one of the best ways to guarantee Passive House ventilation is through a dry, fixed roofing system with a specialized RapidRidge vent, allowing one-way heat flow for better air quality.
Zero Thermal Bridges
Thermal bridging occurs when there is a gap between the building’s insulating wraps, allowing heat to escape. With fully-wrapped insulating methods, Passive Houses prevent thermal bridging and keep the warmth inside!
What Materials Are Used In A Passive House?
When it comes to insulation, flooring, and the walls themselves, Passive House buildings require specific types of construction materials to get the job done right and keep the carbon footprint at a minimum. That’s because the primary goal of Passive Homes is to be self-sustainable, comfortable, and long-lasting.
Some of the key Passive House building materials include:
- Bio-based spray foam insulation.
- Closed panel timber frames for doors and windows.
- Engineered and recycled lumber.
- Environmentally-friendly paint types with low VOC.
- Fluorescent light bulbs.
- Formaldehyde-free cabinets.
- Insulated concrete forms for foundations.
- On-demand, tankless water heater.
- Solar-powered hot water system.
- Sustainable duct seals.
- Sustainably harvested or reclaimed wood floors.
- Triple-glazed glass for windows and sliding doors.
- Water-conserving water fixtures and plumbing systems.
- Wood fiber blocks.
You might notice that all of these components that go into a Passive building not only support sustainability and decrease carbon emissions, but also work to enhance energy efficiency and great ventilation, all while creating an extremely comfortable environment to live in.
How Is A Passive Home Constructed?
By using the right construction materials that contribute to higher sustainability, renewable resources, and lower carbon emissions, Passive House buildings are built from the ground up with inhabitant comfort and energy efficiency in mind.
And, with the enhanced ventilating capabilities of dry, fixed roofing, RapidRidge’s optimized system is the best option for building Passive Homes. It prevents moisture from gathering in the typical places, such as under the eaves, and adds optimized airflow that turns the roof into a heat exchanger to regulate the interior.
Anyone moving into a Passive House can rest assured it is quiet, well-insulated, and energy-efficient, due to the strict standards put in place by the Australian Passive House Association and others all over the world!
In general, though Passive House construction costs can be higher than those of a non-passive house, it’s one of the best housing options. The primary reason for this is the specialized materials and construction process for Passive House buildings, making them more sustainable, energy-efficient, and healthy living spaces.
Overall, a Passive House with dry, fixed roofing will last for years without maintenance costs, and save you up to 90% on annual energy bills, making it one of the best investments possible!