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What is a passive house and how is the architecture designed?

There are many reasons to build a passive house. The most important are related to the cost advantages you enjoy by building a passive house. The architecture of a passive house is designed so that the basic needs of the home owner, with respect to energy supply, are autonomously controlled. As the term "passive" implies, regulating the energy balance requires no action on your part. This capability stems from the architecture of the house. Roughly 8,000 people in Germany have meanwhile taken advantage of this architecture to build a passive house. But how does a passive house function and what is the respective architecture basically made of? The architecture is typically designed so that the outer shell of the passive house is insulated to keep the heat from escaping outside.

The passive house runs on its own

When building a passive house, a ventilation system acts to additional recover 80 percent of the heat. The roof of a passive house is designed to capture additional heat and store it until the room temperature sinks enough so that it must be released. Related studies have shown that a passive house constantly maintains an indoor temperature of more than 20°C at an outside temperature of -14°C. A passive house provides the freedom to individualize the architecture. The owner can decide whether to build the house out of concrete/brick, wood or a combination. The architecture always depends on the architect and the individual plan. However, there are several factors to consider when building a passive house.

The characteristics of a passive house thanks to its architecture

Passive houses exhibit specific characteristics that are tied to the architecture. The external building components must be extremely well insulated in addition to carefully constructing the corners, edges, joints and other cross sections. This would otherwise lead to excessive heat loss and failure of the architecture to fulfill the desired requirements. By taking these factors into account and using the right approach to building a passive house, one can expect a minimal heat loss of only .15 watts per square meter of external surface area. If you are building a house, the architecture should be designed to maximize the energy gain through the solar cells. For this reason, the solar cells on the roof of the passive house must have a southerly orientation.

To build a passive house, it should be designed such that the respective solar collectors and heat pumps supply power to the hot water system. When building a passive house and using the appropriate architecture, you can expect to significantly lower your operating costs.

Lower the operating costs

The architecture is what makes it possible for you to build a passive house and to have a complete energy system that runs on its own. While more and more people are dreaming of building a house, it always involves high costs. With the right architecture, you can build a passive house assuming that you will benefit from significantly lower monthly operating costs. This approach allows you to build to a house that runs completely on its own thanks to the corresponding high-quality architecture . Because the architecture is so well thought-out, you can build this house under the assumption that the heating balance will regulate itself. For this reason, you can assume that building a house is a worthwhile effort.

Architecture and Construction

Here you can discover new and innovative developments from the world of building design and construction.

innovations-report offers reports and articles on a variety of topics such as building optimization, modern construction materials, energy-efficient construction, natural insulation materials and passive buildings.

Latest News:

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Concrete from wood

Researchers from the National Research Programme "Resource Wood" have developed a type of concrete that largely consists of wood. The building material offers the construction industry new possibilities and is based in large part on renewable resources.

Houses can be made of wood, as they were in the past – or of concrete, as they are today. To build for tomorrow, the two building methods are being combined:...

05.07.2017 | nachricht Read more

Modular storage tank for tight spaces

It takes large thermal storage tanks to heat apartment buildings highly efficiently. To install them, they have to fit through standard door openings in existing buildings. The BINE Projektinfo 3/2017 “Large storage tank developed for small spaces” introduces a model that makes this easy. It consists of multiple modules and has lower heat losses than the cascade storage systems previously used.

The thermal storage tank is not fully assembled until it reaches the boiler room

16.03.2017 | nachricht Read more

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

The EU project “LISTEN” creates a robust, hands-free speech control interface for smart home systems. During the recent project review meeting, the partners from Germany, Greece, and Italy demonstrated a real-time, matchbox-size, smart-home-specific natural voice interface to web services. “LISTEN” bridges the gap between microphone array networks, signal processing and speech recognition.

Wouldn´t it be convenient to control heating or cooling, lighting, and media anywhere in your home by just using your voice, without any device in your hand?...

17.01.2017 | nachricht Read more

Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

16.01.2017 | nachricht Read more

How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

11.01.2017 | nachricht Read more

Flexible protection for "smart" building and façade components

Successful conclusion of BMBF funded research project "flex 25" enables novel fluoropolymer film applications on buildings and façades

The trend in architecture and facility management is towards "smart" buildings which, by means of integrated flexible electronics, automatically react on...

30.11.2016 | nachricht Read more

Healthy living without damp and mold

The Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP has been studying the effects of mold for decades. Its scientists carry out intensive research on solutions and tools for preventing, combating, classifying and evaluating the mold caused by moisture. Using a baseline survey, the scientists are now showing how widespread mold and moisture problems are in German and European homes and what effects they have on people and buildings. In this way, they are confirming the need for continuous research and further innovative solutions.

Mold infestation is not a rare phenomenon. In Germany alone, some 10 percent of all structural damage to buildings is related to mold. If the building is not...

16.11.2016 | nachricht Read more

Rock solid: Carbon-reinforced concrete from Augsburg

Chemists at the University of Augsburg have discovered how to manufacture an extremely strong cement at reasonable cost through use of aligned short carbon fibres

Prof. Dr. Dirk Volkmer and fellow scientists from the Chair of Solid State and Materials Chemistry at the University of Augsburg have published a report in the...

11.10.2016 | nachricht Read more

Heating and cooling with environmental energy

Environmental energy provides an efficient way to supply energy to non-residential buildings such as office and administration buildings, educational and recreational facilities as well as industrial sheds. The buildings can be efficiently heated and cooled using the combined use of thermo-active building systems and heat pumps. Across 24 pages, the new BINE-Themeninfo brochure entitled "Efficiently heating & cooling non-residential buildings" (II/2016) presents low-exergy concepts for these buildings.

In these concepts, the environmental heat sources, heating and cooling technology in the building and the comfort requirements of the users are matched as...

22.09.2016 | nachricht Read more

Working comfortably in summer heat

Many existing office and administrative buildings are not air conditioned. This makes it all the more difficult to concentrate on work with increasing temperatures. Scientists have therefore analysed which measures can be used to improve user satisfaction. The BINE-Projektinfo brochure "Keeping a cool head in the summer heat" (04/2016) presents investigations and models to assess the thermal comfort.

Improving thermal comfort in non-air-conditioned buildings

02.06.2016 | nachricht Read more
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

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