Creating homes that tread lightly and last a lifetime.
As such, little or no heating and cooling is required. Instead, a quiet heat or energy exchange system continually provides fresh air to the house and removes any stale air and odors.While initial construction costs will be higher, the significantly lower energy and maintenance costs are far lower than in a conventional building, reducing the whole-life cost of your home immensely. Couple this with the advantages of superior thermal comfort, a healthier internal environment and quiet, simple operation, plus a reduction in your carbon footprint, and a Passive House is the ultimate answer to your dream home or cottage in Haliburton County.
Passive House is the most rigorous voluntary, energy based standard in the design and construction industry. In using it, our goal is to reduce the required heating and cooling energy in your home by up to 90% and create a super efficient, healthy and comfortable environment for you to live in. A passive house is designed and built to utilize its massing and solar orientation to benefit from the sun's energy and protect against cold northerly winds. The reduction of thermal bridging, plus a thick layer of insulation and the highest quality windows and doors provide a consistent protective layer and a stable internal environment.
The Passive House Principles
A continuous layer of insulation wraps a Passive House building, keeping them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Increasing the amount of insulation is one of the most effective ways of reducing a building's energy usage.
No Thermal Bridges
A thermal bridge, or cold bridge, is an area or element of the building's construction that has significantly higher heat transfer than surrounding materials. Thermal bridging causes heat loss in a building as heat is conducted from the interior to the exterior, or cold is transferred in the opposite direction. Ensuring a continuous envelope of insulation is important to reduce heat loss and minimize energy use. Preventing thermal bridges is one of the most efficient energy savings measures there is.
When building to, or near to, Passive House standards, the air tightness of the building is critical to ensure no air or moisture leaks and best performance of the super insulation. To achieve this we completely wrap the house in an airtight barrier and pay special attention to sealing it everywhere. Then, we test to ensure there are no leaks and the optimal future performance of your energy efficient home.
High Performance windows & doors
With each window and door opening we make in a Passive House building, we are essentially punching a hole through an advanced wall assembly and its airtight, weather-resistant, and insulative layers. So, the performance of the windows and doors that go into those holes, and how well we tie them into the surrounding wall assembly, is mission-critical to maintaining the integrity of the Passive House building envelope.
Fresh Air with Heat Recovery
The ventilation system plays a crucial role in Passive Houses:
it provides clean, pollen free, dust free air while eliminating
excess moisture and odours where they occur. Inside the heat exchanger, heat from the warm, stale air (extract air) is passed on to the cold, incoming, outdoor air, thus reducing heat losses considerably. In extreme summer heat, this system can even work to a certain extent in reverse, pre-cooling the fresh air that is supplied to the building. Depending on the efficiency of the heat exchanger, over
90 percent of the heat can be transferred, allowing the supply
air to come in at nearly room temperature.
Passive Solar Gain
The solar radiation that enters a building through its windows
brings with it both light and warmth. This warmth can prove
indispensable in the winter months but the amount that stays
in the building depends heavily on the quality of the windows
installed. Passive House quality windows minimise heat losses,
allowing for optimal use of passive solar energy. This not only leads to energy savings, but also makes for attractive and
healthy living conditions. The amount of passive solar gains
that enter a building in the first place, on the other hand,
depends on that building’s location as well as the distribution
and orientation of its glazed areas. Experienced designers know
how to optimise these aspects in their planning, and can build
Passive Houses even in locations that receive little sunshine.
Do Passive House buildings use solar panels, geothermal systems and wind generators to achieve their excellent energy efficiency performance?
Wouldn’t a Passive House building overheat in summer with lots of insulation and south facing glass?
No. The thermal performance or efficiency of a building, and the energy source or technology used to supply heat or electricity, are two different things. Renewable energy systems do not affect the thermal efficiency of the house itself. In a Passive House building the primary goal is to achieve a superbly well-insulated and tightly sealed building envelope, then introduce fresh air via a very high-efficiency heat recovery ventilation system. Renewable energy technologies can be used on Passive Houses and are often installed if the budget permits.
One of the design requirements for any Passive House building is to ensure summer comfort. Buildings must be designed with appropriate summer shading on south-facing glazing. In areas of high summer temperatures where cooling loads predominate, e.g. southern US states, it often becomes necessary to minimize east- and west-facing glazing, as well as using spectrally selective glass to reduce summer overheating. The amount of south-facing glass, like every other building component, is determined by the designer according to client requirements and the PHPP.
The Passive House Standard works in Europe but our winters are more severe. Does it work in Canada?
What’s the extra cost of building a house to the Passive House Standard? Is this a good investment for me?
The Passive House approach works because it’s a pragmatic combination of applied building science and economics. All Passive Houses are designed using PHPP software, which allows an architect or builder to specify the combination of insulation and components required to bring any building to the required performance standard in their own climate zone. Passive House buildings have been completed in many severe climates, from central Russia to Finland, northern Minnesota, and northern Sweden.
The incremental cost of reaching Passive House performance depends on several factors, including the severity of the climate, the type of building and the availability of high quality building components. The cost effectiveness of doing so in any location will be affected by the local price of energy and by local building energy standards. In Canada building energy standards are lower than in many parts of Europe, and it is relatively difficult to source high quality components here, so the incremental cost of building a Passive House would typically be 10%, assuming that the builder has some experience and training in this type of construction. Are Passive Houses a good investment? Absolutely, with an 80 – 90% reduction in annual heating/cooling fuel consumption the energy savings will cancel out much of the increased up-front investment cost of increased insulation, better-quality windows and ventilation systems. Even at current Canadian energy prices the total monthly cost of owning a Passive House will be very similar to the total monthly cost of owning a conventional house. However the Passive House owner will also enjoy higher indoor air quality and comfort, and will have security against rising fuel prices in the future.